Court declines to order detention of auctioneer alleged to be behind destruction of multi-million Westlands home

Zacharia Baraza at Milimani Law Courts at a past date where the police sought orders to detain him for 14 days to complete investigations into the destruction of a multi-million home in Westlands. Photo/Sam Alfan

An auctioneer alleged to be behind the destruction of a multi-million home in Westlands, Nairobi has been released on bail pending completion of investigations.

Magistrate Principal Magistrate Gibert Shikwe allowed Zacharia Baraza on a cash bail of Sh 200,000 after the police failed to convince the court to detain him for 14 days.

The investigating officer Sergeant Eric Onyango has asked the court to detain Baraza for 14 days to enable them to complete investigations.

The magistrate ruled that the officer does not need 14 days to investigate when he has indicated he knows the value of the destroyed material.

However, the court ordered Baraza to be reporting to the investigating officer when required.

Onyango had told the court that they are yet to recover a comprehensive valuation report and record statements from key witnesses.

The complainant Niraj Shah made a report at Spring Valley police station on 5th November 2022 after Baraza led a group of about 25 people into his family home where they destroyed establishments on the parcel of land, vandalised and stole doors, windows, roofing tiles and building stones.

Sergeant Onyango told the court that the property was extensively damaged and property stolen.

“Investigations commenced soon after that reporting and the applicant’s investigators established that buildings on the parcel of land were actually extensively vandalised suffering a loss estimated to be of about Sh 70 million and allegations of theft are not misplaced,” said the investigating officer.

The police told the court that Baraza is a flight risk after he failed to obey summons to visit DCI offices. They added that it took specialised technology and expenses to trace and arrest him three days after the incident.

¬†Onyango added that they need time to arrest Baraza’s accomplices and it is better if he is placed in custody to assist in tracing them.

According to the officer, they are yet to recover the stolen household goods and personal effects of the complainant that were allegedly taken away by the goons led by the respondent.

“Preliminary investigations have revealed that those household goods and personal effects may have been sold on the instructions of the respondent and thus his assistance is essential in their recovery,” Sergeant Onyango added.

In addition, the officer said they are yet to get a comprehensive valuation report by a registered property valuer to be able to determine the actual loss incurred by the complainant.

The court heard that due to the complexity of the pending investigations, the police will require about 14 working days to complete investigations.

Onyango said that Baraza’s accomplices may be used as prosecution witnesses and thus there is probability of him interfering with them should he be released at the moment.