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Taxi driver jailed for Covid-19 certificate fraud

A taxi operator has been sentenced to three months in jail for attempting to use names of five tourists from Belarussia to obtain Covid-19 clearance certificates from Amref Medial Centre.

Vincent Nzola Mutuku,37, and a father of two, was however given an alternative fine Sh10,000.

Mutuku admitted before Nairobi chief magistrate Francis Andayi that he presented five Kenyans bearing Belarussian names to get Covid-19 clearance certificates.

He is said to have presented the five people at Amref Medical Centre at Wilson Airport who paused as Maria Kapelevich, Alexander Kapelevich, Volha Mukha, Lidziya Smirnova, and Pavel Germanovich for certification they had not contracted Covid-19 during their stay in Kenya as tourists.

However, the court heard that the deal fell through as personnel at the Amref Medical Centre questioned the nationality of those Africans with Belarussian names.

State prosecutor Kibiwott Kiprono appearing jointly with Angela Fuchaka told the court the five Kenyans disappeared in thin air living Mutuku to face the full force of the law.

Explaining the circumstances surrounding the scenario, Kiprono, said the accused operates a taxi and the five Belarussian tourists visiting Kenya were his clients.

“The five Belarussians who were clients of the accused (mutuku) scheduled to fly back were required to have a Covid-19 clearance certificate to show they had not contracted the deadly disease,” Kiprono submitted.

He said a tour guide called the accused from Amboseli to make arrangements at Amref Medical Centre for the five tourists to be examined upon arrival from Amboseli since they had booked a flight to return to Europe.

The five who had a tour director had visited Nairobi and Amboseli National Parks amongst other areas during their tour of Kenya and had pledged to refund Mutuku expenses he would incur to aid them to receive the Covid-19 certificates.

“The five tourists delayed in arriving and asked Mutunga to cancel the arrangement he had made at Amref,” the magistrate heard.

In the meantime, Mutuku made a second booking for them to be examined at the Lancet Laboratories where they were to be tested and issued with Covid-19 clearance certificate before they flew home.

“Instead of losing the money to Amref, Mutuku decided to present other people for the examination but questions on their nationalities and names arose,” the court heard.

Kiprono said police were called and arrested Mutuku who has been charged with misdemeanor Contrary to Section 394 of the Penal Code.

In his mitigation, Mutunga sought leniency saying,“ I did what I did in good faith. I did not intend to defraud the institution.”

Sentencing the driver, Andayi said he will exercise his discretion by imposing a fine of Sh10,000 or serve a three months jail term in default. He was given 14 days to appeal against the sentence.