On 14th May 2017, Mother's day, I decided to have a treat and eat out for dinner with my family at New For You Chinese Restaurant, Gitanga Road opposite Kobil petrol station. We arrived at 8.30 pm and our two girls promptly went to the playground.
At about 9.00 pm as I am playing with my 2 and a half year old child on the swings adjacent to the restaurant kitchen, I hear someone beckoning to me. He is calling through the kitchen window. I turn and ignore assuming he must be trying to reach out to a fellow colleague nearby.
He persists calling me "mrembo", "baby". I ignore and am more incensed that this is in front of my daughter.
He then moves on to a window closer to the swings and he is now a breath away. He then asks in Swahili; Why are you playing hard to get and yet you look like a loose girl" Insinuating am a prostitute?
This was too much! I asked his name and walked straight to the lady in charge at the front desk demanding to be told to desist from verbally abusing me.
The Chinese lady positively looked angered (I thought). She asks a staff member close by if he knows this name. He stated the name is fake then turns to me and states this is a common annoying behavior by the kitchen staff. I walk away hoping never to experience this.
Minutes later, the lady calls me and ushers me to the kitchen where she has rounded up six men for my identification. I point to a separate man still working who closely resembles my aggressor.
He immediately denies and says its yet another person who looks like him. Minutes later after walking out to look for the real aggressor, he walks back in and recants claiming to have no idea what I am talking about!
Meanwhile the tallest cook handling some hot oil in a wok switches on the fireplace and intentionally flaps the cooking spoon in our direction audibly cursing under his breath.
Thank God my daughter was wearing a hooded sweater and facing away. Drops of hot oil land on my right eyelid and a bit on the Chinese lady who seems unbothered by such open aggression.
She calls to a Chinese man who walks out and comes in with men dressed up as GSU personnel with AK47 guns completely misplaced in this script. Why GSU and not the police? How fast? They walk in briskly with their guns in place. Walk into the restaurant and out again.
It slowly dawns upon me from what the lady says and the ease of this choreograph that this is a common place incidence. There are employees who habitually harass female patrons as they play with their children near the kitchen area.
And all the management does is threaten the workers and reassure the patrons by this stage managed cops script. By now the lady is back to the front desk to continue counting her money and I know am just the pawn in this game.
I walk back and request my husband that we leave immediately. The waiter promptly comes to cash out our bill (how timely to keep business priorities in check!)
As I walk away, every other worker in the premises keeps looking my way and whispering away. I felt a victim of what is a now accepted sexual crime.
I hold my daughters closer as I imagined in fear the possibility that they would be exposed to a sex pest as they came for an innocent play ground time! I prayed and purposed NEVER to let it happen to them.
LET THIS NEVER HAPPEN TO YOU! DO NOT GO TO THIS RESTAURANT (Mary *).
When Cofek called the Chinese Restaurant manager, a Ms. Yen with a deep Chinese English accent, she only pleaded that the story shouldn't be published because she had already "sacked the cleaner". Asked the name of the person she sacked, she said she doesn't know and would call us back.
Asked what the two police officers do or came to do in the kitchen, Ms Yen claimed they are for "protecting us".
Meanwhile the victim has proceed to report the matter at the Muthangari Police Station on James Gichuru Road. Updates to follow.
Verbal sexual assault carries heavy penalties. It is expected that "For You" management will produce the offending staff to undergo due process of the law.
The complaint has since been formally reported at the Muthangari Police Station under OB 36/15/5/17 at 12.10 hrs. We hope Ms. Veronica Thuo of the Gender office at the police station will ensure justice is offered.