Bunty Shah with his son and wife. Bunty was shot dead in a police operation at his home in Nairobi  (Photo Moses Omusula)

NAIROBI, KENYA: The family of the billionaire who was last year gunned down on his balcony by policemen is demanding Sh730 million compensation from the Government.

Bunty Shah’s family has written to the outgoing Attorney General, Githu Muigai, on what it has termed illegal killing of the businessman.

Shah’s widow says the family, which includes a five-month-old son, was deprived of its sole bread winner when her husband was felled by a sniper on October 22, 2017 in an operation gone wrong in Westlands, Nairobi.

The family is demanding Sh18 million, which is calculated at Sh1 million a year for the baby, Sh100 million for unlawful execution, Sh20 million for moral damages and emotional suffering, Sh200 million for life plan insurance, and Sh100 million as a punitive measure on police for widespread extrajudicial killings.

Further, the family argues that Shah was 32 at the time of his killing and was earning Sh7.2 million annually as salary and a further bonus of Sh500,000.

“Taking multiplier of 38 years, the years he could have worked to reach the mandatory retirement age of 60, the family is demanding Sh273.6 million and Sh19 million as salary and bonus respectively,” reads the demand letter by the family lawyer, Ahmedinasir Abdullahi.

The letter dated February 15 was copied to Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet, and acting Director of Public Prosecutions Nicholas Mutuku.

“Take notice that unless we hear from you the soonest on the quantum of damages payable to our clients as we state and justify here above not later than 30 days we have firm and irrevocable instructions to sue the Government of Kenya for wilful and premeditated killing,” said Abdullahi.

The lawyer wants the police officers involved in the operation prosecuted. The family has threatened to institute private prosecution for murder against the IG and the officer who pulled the trigger.

“We have put you on firm notice that it will be a gross mistake on your part if you doubt or misjudge our resolve and determination to see through our demand and threat to sue,” says the lawyer.

Shah was, according to the family, a successful businessman who was a director of Bobmil Group of Companies that incorporates Bloomingdale Roses, both reputable firms in Kenya.

Chances are that any Kenyan or East African who has used a foam mattress, secured their homes with Viro locks, or bought vehicle spare parts from Express Spares Limited has interacted with Bobmil, where Shah was destined to be the heir after his parents since he was the only son.

The Bobmil group of companies comprises a number of businesses operating in various market segments/industries including manufacturing, trading, and property development and management.

Bobmil Industries Limited, Viro Locks (K) Limited, Express Spares Limited, and Sports Road Properties Limited - residential property development and management - are some of the companies owned by the family.

“He was a dashing young man full of life, zest, energy, and ambition. He was newly married and had a five-and-a-half-month-old baby boy,” adds the letter.

The lawyer explains that the shooting was captured on CCTV cameras in the compound, which showed a convoy of police cars arriving from the direction of Westgate Mall led by an armoured personnel carrier (APC).

The other cars blocked the road from both directions while the APC smashed the gate, bringing it down into the compound.

A guard on duty was severely injured.

Heavily armed police officers took positions in the compound as others started to destroy security lights, waking up Shah, who opened the window of his bedroom on the first floor.

He was felled by a single shot from a marksman.

The family called an ambulance that arrived in minutes, only to be denied entry for several minutes.

The officers, realising that they had the wrong target, disabled the CCTVs and vacated the compound, leaving Shah lying on the floor.

According to the family, no police officer has ever gone back to the family to take their statements as part of investigations into the killing in spite of having owned up and apologising.

On Sunday, police spokesman Charles Owino said the investigation into the shooting had not been resolved and that an inquest file had been opened and placed before a magistrate.

“The procedure of such deaths is that an inquiry file is opened and placed before a magistrate, who will then determine if there will be someone to be indicted. The process is ongoing. In the meantime, you cannot stop any Kenyan who wants to seek justice in a court of law because that is their right and when that happens police, through the AG’s office, will respond,” Owino said.

Police spokesman

The day after the shooting, then police spokesman and now Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti said the service regretted the killing of Shah at his residence in Westlands during an anti-terror operation and promised to investigate the matter.

“We regret the unfortunate death and wish to assure the public that a thorough inquiry into the circumstances of the shooting has been instituted,” he said.

Kinoti said on October 21, at about 4 pm, information obtained by the police indicated that some unidentified individuals were plotting to stage multiple attacks in Nairobi using weapons that were kept in an unoccupied house along Peponi Road.

“Having evaluated the information, a quick check confirmed that there was indeed such a building along that physical address that was adjacent to other properties that were occupied."

Unoccupied property

In view of the real and imminent danger to public security, a further and thorough check at that unoccupied property became necessary and had to be done immediately, he added.

“Unfortunately, during the operation, officers involved came under fire from a balcony of a building. The unidentified person continued firing even after being cautioned, forcing the officers to respond. In the ensuing exchange of fire, the individual, who has been identified as Bunty Shah, was fatally injured.”