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KQ responds to critics after suspending China plane whistle-blower

Sunday, March 1st, 2020 14:58 | By
Kenya Airways plane.

National Carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) has maintained that they suspended the whistle-blower who filmed a Chinese plane landing for breaching airport security.

But the national carrier said that it was the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) that filed a complaint about airport security procedures breach after the KQ staff video went viral.

The KQ staff filmed a Chinese plane landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Wednesday, an action that earned him a suspension from work.

The plane landed at JKIA with 239 passengers from China in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

Major world airlines have stopped flights to China for fear of importing the virus from China where the outbreak was first reported.

World Health Organisation(WHO) says that the death toll from coronavirus now stands at 2,976.

In a statement on March 1, KQ indeed acknowledged the need to share information on coronavirus to the public but, it maintained that the suspended staff breached airport security procedures.

"In accordance with standard HR procedure, the employee was suspended to allow a full investigation and to determine facts of the matter," said KQ in a statement.

During the suspension, KQ said that the suspended staff will still earn his full salary.

'I fear for my life'

On Friday, however, the KQ employee told K24 Digital that he fears for his life. After the incident, he said that he received many phone calls, forcing him to stop using the device.

“So many mobile phone numbers have been calling me, but I fear the callers are out to establish my whereabouts.

“As a result, I refused to receive the calls because I believe they are tracking me down,” said the KQ staffer.

He said he was interrogated for at least six hours, with the senior security officers demanding to know why he was subjecting the airport to national and global scrutiny.

“In my six-hour interrogation, which began at 11 am and ended at 5 pm, I was intimidated and harassed by the senior airport staff,” he said.

“After grilling me for that long, they told me to surrender my station access cards and wait for the company’s verdict on the fate of my job.”

The whistle-blower, who has worked at the JKIA for one-year-and-two-months, said even as the firm conducts its independent investigations, he was “ready to cooperate with the investigators, but I have to be assured of my safety.”

Recounting the Wednesday incident that has now landed him in trouble, he said after the China Southern Airlines plane touched down at the JKIA, he and other junior security officers refused to have the passengers cleared for arrival.

In the newest statement, KQ has maintained that the probe will be conducted in a 'transparent' manner.

Criticism

Ever since the KQ staff's suspension came to light, Kenyans have lashed out at KQ.

The High Court, backed by an Executive Order have since stopped freights from China landing into the country.

Additional reporting by Lennox Segre, K24 Digital

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