Police yet to find owner of vehicle where Sh9.4 million bhang was found

Mughanga Ruwange and Dennis Shere at Shanzu Law Courts in Mombasa. The two were arrested by DCI over their alleged link to Sh9.4 million bhang that was found in an abandoned car at Kanamai along the Mombasa-Malindi highway. [Joackim Bwana, Standard]

Police in Kilifi County are yet to establish the owner of an abandoned car where bhang worth Sh9.4 million was found at Kanamai along the Mombasa-Malindi highway.

On Friday, September 15, 2023, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) sought to detain two people arrested in connection with the drugs for three weeks as they continued with investigations into the matter.

The two suspects, Mughanga Ruwange and Dennis Sher, were arrested from their homes at Kanamai Majengo, Kilifi, on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. They have been presented before court but have not been charged with any crime.

Ruwange and Sher have linked their arrest to an alleged land ownership dispute. However, the DCI detectives claim the duo knows the owner of the Toyota Prado TX where the bhang was found.

In their application before Senior Principal Magistrate Yusuf Shikanda, the DCI said they believe the two are connected to the owner of the Prado.

But through their lawyers Julius Ireri and George Anango, the suspects told the court that police have no evidence linking them to the bhang and should therefore be released.

Ireri said that everything concerning the bhang and the Prado remains an allegation not substantiated in court since the two have not been charged yet.

"We oppose the application for the detention of my two clients for three weeks. The fingerprints have already been taken and they have no way of interfering hence detaining them is of no use. The arrested persons have a right to bail," said Ireri.

He said there has been no evidence to show how his clients will interfere with investigations or any proof that they have been in contact with any person linked to the bhang or the car.

Ireri said the suspects were arrested and detained on September 12, and presented to court after 24 hours.

Ireri said there was no social inquiry to prove their lives were in danger as claimed by the prosecution.

"As it stands, the officers are in possession of their prerequisite documents including their identity card. So there is no reason before this court to warrant them being denied bail," said Ireri.

State Prosecutor Peris Ogega applied for the detention of the two for three weeks to allow the police to complete investigations.

"Our application seeks to deny the suspect's bond. The investigation officer is investigating trafficking of narcotics worth Sh9.4 million weighting 316 kilograms which was found in a Prado TX and the same accused persons are suspected to be involved," she said as she also applied for leave to amend the charge sheet that was defective. 

Ogega said that given the gravity of the offence, with the possible fine being three times the value of the drugs, they are apprehensive that the suspects may disappear if given a bond.

The prosecutor also said they believe the suspects are among a group of people involved in the trafficking of drugs in the Coast region, hence the need to get more time to arrest their collaborators.

"It goes without saying that the drug menace is at an all-time high and given the amount of drugs involved in this instance, I apply to have them detained for three weeks pending investigations. As of now, we have not recovered any information from the agencies concerning this matter," said Ogega.

She told the court that the investigating officer is also apprehensive about the suspects' safety after reports that they have been selling bhang to youths at Majengo in Kanamai. If released, they may not be accepted back into the community, she said.

However, Shikanda allowed the plea to be deferred until Monday and the prosecution to amend the charge sheet.

"Based on the arguments made, I will defer the ruling to Monday. The suspects are to remain in Mtwapa police station," said Shikanda.