Case Study Pin

Disclaimer: This case is currently being investigated. This case study does not reflect ICoCA’s stance on the issue but is merely a re-presentation of publicly documented facts.

Del Monte Pineapple Farm: Alleged killings and assault of local villagers over the course of a decade.

Security guards working for Del Monte, an American food production and distribution company, have been accused of killing and brutally assaulting local villagers at their pineapple farm in Kenya. Allegations of assault by the security guards at the farm date back to 2013, when a body was retrieved from Del Monte’s dam. On behalf of 134 villagers, the law firm Leigh Day has written to Del Monte detailing 146 alleged incidents and seeking compensation for the human right abuses committed by the security guards over the last ten years.

Keywords: clash with locals, poor training, sexual violence, weapons


Del Monte’s pineapple farm in Kenya is the “single largest exporter of Kenyan produce to the world”.  Almost all pineapples produced in the Del Monte farm in Kenya are exported abroad, mainly to British supermarkets like Tesco, Waitrose, Asda and Sainbury. In contrast, the local villages surrounding the farm live in poverty, leading to a black-market demand for the fruit in this area. Some villagers, particularly the young men, are accused of trespassing on Del Monte’s farmland to steal the pineapples. Allegedly, these young men often raided the farms on motorcycles leading to clashes between the guards and the villagers over the stolen pineapples, with one security guard losing an eye due to a stone thrown by a thief. The claims suggest that the guards, in return, have been using excessive force while dealing with the villagers.

This Del Monte farm employs 273 security guards. The guards are armed with wooden clubs called “rungus”. Reports suggest that the guards have been assaulting the villagers with rungus causing blunt force trauma, leading to death in some cases. Reports made to the police usually have no follow up, with the police allegedly turning a blind eye to the violence.  These security guards have been reportedly accused of five deaths over the last decade but have had no convictions.

The Incidents

The law firm Leigh Day has detailed over 146 alleged incidents in its letter to Del Monte. The joint investigation by the Guardian and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism also uncovered claims from the villagers including eye witness accounts. They also investigated four deaths linked to Del Monte security guards. Incidents of violence include the guards allegedly attacking the passengers of a minibus travelling through the plantation in 2021 September. The bus had broken down on the public roads within the plantation and the passengers were beaten up with rungus.

On December 2022, John Rui Karia was allegedly attacked as he slept by the road side next to the farm. Reportedly, though the guards beat him up badly, he was denied medical care and passed away after a week in prison. The pathologist’s report revealed that he suffered a series of injuries including “multiple contusions of the abdomen, lungs, and brain, and defence injuries to the forearms”.

On July 2023, Del Monte guards were once again accused of reportedly running over and seriously injuring two teenagers for alleged theft. Other accusations include death due to strangulation, blunt force trauma, drowning and more. Victims often had signs of assault and violence. There are reports of serious injuries and beatings and five allegations of rape.

Legal Aspects


Though five former guards of Del Monte were fired for their involvement in the death of one of the locals in 2019, their trial has still not taken place. On the other hand, some of the local men who were found guilty of stealing pineapples have been given long prison sentences, with some even sentenced to death.

Kenya’s Human Rights Commission has launched an investigation into these allegations. It has asked Del Monte to take immediate action and to ensure effective remedy and has asked state agencies to “hasten and conduct structured investigations”. It has also asked Del Monte to put measures into place to prevent similar future incidents.

The International Code of Conduct

The International Code of Conduct requires that Personnel of Member and Affiliate companies take all reasonable steps to avoid the use of force, and if force is used, it should be proportionate to the threat and appropriate to the situation. (Rules on the Use of Force : paragraph 29, Use of Force : paragraph 30-32).

Resources on Use of Force

Additionally, security personnel are only allowed to apprehend persons to defend themselves or others against an imminent threat of violence following an attack or crime against Company Personnel, clients, or property under their protection. Apprehension and detention must be consistent with international and national law, and all apprehended and detained persons must be treated humanely and consistent with their status and protections under applicable human rights law and international humanitarian law. (Detention: paragraph 33)

Resources on Apprehending Persons

Resources on Detention

Under the International Code of Conduct companies cannot allow their personnel to engage in or benefit from sexual exploitation, abuse, or gender-based violence or crimes. Security companies must require their personnel to remain vigilant for all instances of sexual or gender-based violence, and report these instances to competent authorities. (Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) or Gender-Based Violence (GBV): paragraph 38)

Guidelines on Preventing and Addressing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Resources on Preventing Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

The Code requires stringent selection and vetting of personnel, assessment of performance and duties (paragraphs 45 to 49), and training of personnel of the Code and relevant international law, including human rights and international criminal law (paragraph 55). Meeting the requirements of the Code of Conduct, can help private security companies and their clients ensure that private security personnel are qualified, trained, supported, informed, and responsible.

Resources on working conditions


In 2019, after one of the locals was allegedly beaten to death by the security guards on the farm, Del Monte improved its security and safety practices. The company updated radio communication, trained guards on new formal rules of engagement and enhanced formal processes around allegations of violence. Still, five of the alleged deaths caused by security guards occurred post 2019.

Del Monte has stated that it views these allegations seriously and has launched a “full and urgent investigation” on them. Companies like Tesco have suspended its orders from Del Monte sourced from this farm until investigations are completed. Waitrose too reiterated that all its suppliers should comply with “strict ethical standards”.


How can companies proceed to win back the trust of the local community after violent incidents?

How should the security guards of Del Monte have dealt with the individuals they accuse of trespassing? What kind of measures would have made the guards better equipped to deal with this situation?

How can clients and private security companies prevent sexual abuse and the use of force against vulnerable local villagers?

Related incidents




This case was prepared by Shilpa Suresh, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. 

Descargo de responsabilidad

De acuerdo con la cláusula de exención de responsabilidad de la página de inicio, ni la Asociación del Código de Conducta Internacional ni ninguno de los autores pueden identificarse con las opiniones expresadas en el texto o las fuentes incluidas en «Defender la Seguridad Responsable: El Mapa de Casos del Código Internacional de Conducta».