Sudhir Shah

Sudhir Shah, 68, who was shot by a gunman riding a motorcycle on Saturday afternoon near a vast coffee plantation as he and his associates chatted.

| Pool

How killers used Sh3bn land deal to lure Thika tycoon to his death

The family of a tycoon who was killed in a drive-by shooting along the Thika Superhighway at the weekend believe he was set up over a Sh3 billion land deal.

Sudhir Shah, 68, was shot by a gunman riding a motorcycle on Saturday afternoon near a vast coffee plantation as he and his associates chatted.

Mr Shah, a father of two, was shot in the neck and at the back of his shoulder and was pronounced dead on arrival at Thika Central Memorial Hospital. He co-owned Ndarugo Plantation 1960 Limited in Juja with five other directors and the family said the deal involved the sale of 150 acres.

His widow Taruna Shah and nephew Jitan Shah said they believed the meeting that had been planned to negotiate a land deal was a set-up. They did not, however, disclose by whom.

“Sudhir was the one managing the coffee farm for over 11 years after he closed down his motor vehicle spare parts shop in Thika to concentrate on the Ndarugo farm,” said the widow.

Part of the land was a quarry.

At the time of the shooting, Mr Shah was with his co-director Francis Michuki, the latter’s bodyguard Jesse Kariuki and five potential investors. Francis is the son of former Internal Security minister John Michuki, who died in February 2012.

“His death is suspect. Why him? No one else was injured during the shoot-out. Mr Michuki had a bodyguard and we are told he fired back when the two gunmen had left,” Jitan said, referring to reports a police officer assigned to one of the co-directors had engaged the attackers.

Ms Shah said her husband had not expressed any fears for his life and on that day, he had been as cheerful as always. He woke up at 6.30am and left his home at Section Nine in Thika to a temple in town. Thereafter, he drove to Ndarugo for the meeting.

Special economic zone

They wanted to set up a special economic zone in the area that would host industries and go-downs.

This was the first time he was meeting the investors. According to the latest land index report by real estate company HassConsult, an acre in Juja, which is close to the highway goes for between Sh6.4 million and Sh22 million. This means the value of the 150 acres ranges between Sh960 million and Sh3.3 billion.

After the meeting at the offices of Ndarugo Plantation 1960 Limited on Saturday, the group had driven out in a convoy of three vehicles. They parked next to the plantation.

A police report indicated that they were accosted by two suspects who were riding a motorcycle of unknown registration number.

“One of them was armed with a pistol and ordered everyone to lie on the ground. But the officer (Michuki’s bodyguard) defied the order after seeing one of the suspects was armed with a pistol. He took cover and started firing at them, who fired back. The suspects were overwhelmed and sped off without robbing the victims,” states the report.

Mobile phones confiscated

The Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Head of Investigations John Gachomo visited the scene on Sunday. The mobile phones of all the eight people who were with Mr Shah have been confiscated for forensic analysis.

A detective familiar with the investigations said Mr Michuki’s bodyguard has also surrendered his gun.

Jitan said his uncle will be cremated on Thursday. “He was more of a friend than an uncle,’’ he said.


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