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Baobab Hotel barred me because of race

A managing director of a Kenyan tour company told a court he was denied entry by Baobab Beach Resort and Spa Limited nine years ago because of racial discrimination.

Dancun Muriuki, testifying in the case he has filed against the hotel, said on arrival at the main gate, he and his driver were denied entry and obstructed from entering. He said he had fully identified himself at the gate.

“The guards manning the gate informed us they were under strict instructions not to allow too small operators access to the hotel,” Muriuki said.

He said they remained at the gate for a considerable period of time. They observed the guards were allowing access to the hotel in a selective and discriminatory manner, on the basis of race, colour, birth and social origin.

The witness added that on February 9, 2012, he returned to the hotel in the company of a driver and two white guests; they were allowed access to the same hotel.

“I believe the two incidents on February 7 and 9 taken in isolation of each other and jointly, I really believe that the respondent allows the policy of discrimination on race, color and social origin in its operation,” Muriuki said.

Muriuki told Judge Anthony Mrima that he opened a Facebook group entitled “Name and Shame and Say No to all Discrimination”.

While giving his evidence, Muriuki added that the tourist had come all the way from Europe to promote tourism.

“I remained outside the gate for more than 25 minutes. I didn’t want my clients to worry. They opened the gate for other cars. I stood there asked for the general manager’s number, they declined. I called several people,” he added.

The man said that he spoke to a receptionist. They told him to send an email. With the security guards, he had a very cordial conversation but the vehicle was not allowed to enter. He added that his vehicle had the necessary stickers. “I got desperate. I called my clients to go to the reception and talk to the receptionist,” he added.

In the case, Muriuki, who is the owner of Destination Africa DMC Ltd, has sued Baobab Beach Resort & Spa Ltd based in Diani, Kwale, for alleged discrimination. He has accused the resort of discrimination and of barring him from accessing the hotel.

Muriuki, who has been in and out of court since 2013 seeking justice, says he believes the case is of great public interest. In his court papers, Muriuki claims that at about 7am on February 7, 2012, he visited the resort to pick up guests but was denied entry.

He said security personnel denied him entry to the hotel precincts because of the management’s policy to exclude small tour operators. In August, the judge had dismissed the application by the resort seeking to bar the media from covering the case.

Mrima had said that the case against the defendant is of public interest and that the application to bar the media from covering it has no merit and is ill-intended.

“I hereby dismiss it and allow the media to cover the proceedings in open court,” the judge ruled.

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