Uchumi defends Ofwono

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th April 2005 03:00 AM

Uchumi Supermarkets country manager David Njenga yesterday defended Movement information chief Ofwono Opondo against allegations of shoplifting.

BY J. Maseruka

Uchumi Supermarkets country manager David Njenga yesterday defended Movement information chief Ofwono Opondo against allegations of shoplifting.

Njenga told journalists in his office at Garden City, flanked by Ofwono Opondo, that he had no report of shoplifting or theft by a government official.

Asked whether any statement had been recorded by a John Okello as reported, Njenga said, “I am sorry that is internal information that we cannot disclose to the media. We do not release information on shoplifters.”

Njenga had earlier told the press conference that their security had a list of shoplifters from last Friday but he would not release it.
He said, “I don’t go by what the majority say. I go by my records. We have not had any reported case against any prominent person. And no one is forcing me to make this statement.”

Asked on phone after the press conference whether Ofwono took a pen and underwear and whether there was a scuffle with Ofwono last Saturday, Njenga said, “What I said is final. There is nothing to add.”

Ofwono said he was ready for fingerprint and handwriting tests to disprove that he took a pen and underwear at Uchumi without pay.

He challenged authors of the ‘malicious’ story against him to bring evidence on the type of gun he was allegedly found with, its serial number and the number of bullets.

“The reports showed that I made a statement and signed under a fictitious name of “John Okello” and that the arresting officers retrieved my identity card. If the information corroborates, I’ll take myself to the Police for prosecution,” he said.

On Tuesday, Ofwono wrote to NRM vice-chairman Moses Kigongo and denied the shoplifting but admitted picking a Bic pen to tick through his shopping list.

Ofwono wondered how he could have resorted to shoplifting to make investors lose revenue yet the Government wanted foreign investors.

He said Uchumi could lose customers for fear of being put in newspapers. “If a small man like me can get such publicity over a small pen what about big shots?” he said.
Asked about the motive of the allegations, Ofwono said, “Politics has hazards that I accept, if they advance democracy.”

He said he shops at Uchumi on weekends where people know him by name or call him afande (officer).

Ofwono said someone was trying to malign him. Uchumi staff and several customers smiled at Ofwono as he led journalists to Njenga’s office. Colleagues hugged him saying, “We read that you steal pants here.”

Njenga said shoplifting was common in supermarket business.

“Any person can forget to return a pen borrowed in the bank to sign a cheque. So if a reasonable person forgets to declare a Bic pen, it’s understandable,” he said.

Njenga said shoplifters are arrested, fined and commodities returned.

“I can spend a month without getting such cases because I deal with the ones that cannot be settled within the premises.
“For sure we do not prosecute people,” he said.

Uchumi defends Ofwono

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