The controversial Chinese restaurant manager Ms Zhao Yang at Milimani law court where she was charged with operating a restaurant illegally and without a work permit.
BY SAM ALFAN.
The manager of a Chinese restaurant in Kenya at the center of racism storm was charged before a Nairobi Magistrate court on Thursday with operating a restaurant illegally.
Nairobi resident magistrate Miriam Mugure ordered Ms Zhao Yang detained for two days after the prosecution objected to her release on bail on the grounds that she is a foreigner and has refused to surrender and disclose details of her immigration status.
She denied that on March 23 at around 11am, along Galana Road in Kilimani, Nairobi, being the manager of the Chinese Restaurant jointly with others not before the court, they were found operating the restaurant in contravention of a section of the law prohibiting the operation of a Class B restaurant without a tourism licence.
Ms Yang has also been charged with being engaged in employment without a work permit.
An affidavit in objection to her release, sworn by investigating officer Charles Wandera, said that while on inspection duties in Kilimani, it was established that the restaurant was being run by the suspect.
“The accused is a foreign national, a Chinese, and during interrogation she declined to disclose her place of residence and her immigration status. We asked her to produce her work permit and she did not have one.”
The affidavit was presented before resident magistrate Miriam Mugure.
The owner of a Chinese restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya was arrested following an uproar over its policy of banning African customers at night, according to reports.
Owner Zhao Yang was arrested for operating a restaurant without a valid license shortly after local press ran a story alleging that Kenyan reporters were turned away from the restaurant for being African.
Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper carried a story on Monday that its reporters had been barred entry to the restaurant, being told by a guard at the entrance that “the time for Africans is over” when the journalists arrived at 7 p.m.
Only locals accompanied by Chinese, European or Indian patrons would be admitted, the newspaper reported.
It also reported that two local politicians, “loyal patrons” Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko and former Cabinet Minister Raphael Tuju, had been admitted, the latter being a friend of the owner.
Kenyan social media users were quickly up in arms about the ban, taking to Facebook and Twitter to voice their displeasure, using the hashtag.
The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) wants the government investigate and deal with what it terms as increased racism by corporate, especially by foreign firms operating in the country.
Cofek Secretary General Stephen Mutoro says they have received concerns from employees of at least 12 different companies on challenges of being discriminated because of their skin colour.
“Of the 12 companies that we have received complaints from, seven are not local. I would like to say that this problem of racism in our firms is real and need to be addressed. You may not understand until it comes close to you,” Mutoro said.
Cofek is now calling on the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government to work together and ensure proper scrutiny of those being given local work permits.
He says some of the major raised concerns include mass sacking of the locals in the favour of expatriate as well as poor working conditions.
“When you have sacking of Kenyans to bring people who don’t even qualify for a job, tells you there is a problem. People who don’t even have secondary education are being given big jobs in this country,” Mutoro said.
Cofek argues that if the issue is not addressed, it could raise unnecessary animosity amongst the members of staff which could end up scaring other genuine foreign investors away.
“The country must do all it can to ensure that we attract many investors into our country. But just like any many states, we must ensure there are laws and regulations to protect our people,” he said.
Mutoro’s statement comes a few days after a Chinese restaurant in Nairobi was accused of discriminating Africans by not allowing them to enter the eatery from 5pm. The restaurant has since been closed over licensing issues.
Mutoro mentioned the issue on Thursday when Cofek’s was marking its fifth year anniversary with emphasis being on consumer awareness in the country.
The lobby group plans to raise Sh100million every year for the next five years which will be largely used to increase consumer awareness and protection of their rights.
The magistrate ruled that there were compelling reasons to deny Ms Yang bail and directed that she be held at the Lang’ata women’s prison till Monday, when the case will be mentioned.