Senior Principal Magistrate Esther Bhoke set the courtroom in laughter on Thursday, January 28, 2021, after she ruled that Busaa is not illegal but just a traditional brew.
The magistrate spoke after Ann Kayila, a mother of three, was charged with selling and being in possession of five litres of the local brew in Kibera, Nairobi.
The prosecution accused Kayila of failing to comply with the standards outlined in the Alcoholic Drinks Act of 2010.
However, Magistrate Bhoke argued that Busaa is a traditional drink esteemed in Western Kenya and that the accused only crime was selling without a license.
“Busaa is a traditional brew that is highly valued by communities from Western Kenya, and ,therefore, it is not an illicit brew. However, the accused operated the business without a proper a license,” Bhoke said.
Ann pleaded guilty to the charges and sought leniency from the court.
She told the court that she embarked on the Busaa business in order to fend for her three kids since she had no better opportunities to do so.
Kayila was fined Sh10,000 for the offence, failure to which she will spend three months behind bars.
The liquor that was seized from Kayila’s premises was surrendered to the state.
Selling illicit brews has seen many offenders arraigned and charged in court in Kenya.
The government has, on several occasions, cracked down individuals engaging in the illegal business.
A National Alcoholic Committee was formed in 2020 to carry out regular audits on local alcoholic drinks manufacturers and ensure sustained compliance with the quality standards and any other regulatory requirements.