Police seek 14 days to detain auctioneer behind illegal eviction

Avani Shah, the owner of the demolished house looks at the rubble of what used to be her home at Spring Valley in Nairobi. [Samson Wire, Standard]

Police have pleaded with the court to allow them to detain an auctioneer behind the illegal house demolitions in Westland for 14 days.

State seeks 14 days to detain auctioneer alleged to be behind Westland house demolition

This is after the auctioneer, Zachary Barasa was arrested and arraigned in court before Milimani magistrate Gilbert Shikwe where the police sought to detain him as they probe destruction of property allegations.  

Sergeant Eric Onyango, the investigator told the court that he needs time to recover the items vandalised from the property and go after the people who gave the auctioneer instructions.

The court heard that Niraj Shah and her husband lost items estimated to be around Sh70 million.

“The complainant maintains that the respondent who claims to be an auctioneer led about 25 people into his family home in Westlands along school lane whereby the respondent and his team destroyed establishments on the parcel of land and stole a lot of items therefrom. Most importantly, they vandalised and carried away doors, windows, roofing tiles, and building stones,” said Onyango.

According to the investigator, Barasa explained that the person who gave him the orders alleged that he owns the property.

Onyango argued that he needed time to verify if the title deed to the property belongs to Shah’s family or the person who issued instructions she be evicted.

“Investigators are yet to arrest his accomplices. The respondent is better placed to assist investigators in tracing those accomplices,” he said. 

 The court also heard that he that he is a flight risk as he failed to appear before the Directorate of Criminal Investigations when he was summoned.

“if he is released ln cash bail before the recovery is done, we will not have evidence,” said Onyango.

At the same time, the investigator claimed that the items that were carted away may have already been sold. 

“Preliminary investigations have revealed that those  household goods and personal effects may have been sold on the instructions of Baraza and that is why his assistance is essential towards their recovery,” said Onyango

Barasa’s lawyer Brian Khaemba opposed the application. He said that the man was a licensed auctioneer and was just executing a court order.

“Being an officer of this court, he is not a flight risk and can always attend the IO as and when he is required by law. He is before you because he did as what was required of him,” said Khaemba.

The complainant has also gone to the Lands and Environment Court to seek orders against the person who instructed our client. This process is unfounded. There is no reason why he should be kept on custody,” the lawyer argued.

He urged the court to release him on a Sh20,000 cash bail.

The magistrate will rule on the same tomorrow Thursday. 

The Standard
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