Westlands demolition: Auctioneer charged with robbery with violence

Mr Zachary Baraza of Siuma Auctioneers Ltd (left) on Thursday denied robbery with violence charges in relation to the demolition of a house in Westlands, Nairobi.

An auctioneer linked to the demolition of a Sh20 million couple's house in Nairobi’s Westlands area has been released by court on a cash bail of Sh2 million or a bond of Sh5 million after denying criminal charges involving robbery with violence and malicious damage of property. 

Mr Zachariah Wakhungu Barasa was granted the bail by Milimani chief magistrate Wendy Kagendo pending the criminal trial. He faced two charges of robbery with violence and malicious damage. 

Prosecutors allege that tye offences occurred on November 4, 2022 when Mr Baraza was evicting Mr Niraj Batuk Shah and his wife Ms Avani Niraj from their home situated at Westlands-School lane in Nairobi. 

He was charged with robbing them of their electronic appliances, jewelry and assorted household goods and items valued at Sh18,097,000 on November 4, 2022 at their dwelling house. 

The court heard that "immediately before the time of such stealing", Mr Baraza, who trades as  of Siuma Auctioneers,
threatened to use violence on Shah and Niraj.

In relation to malicious demolition, he was accused that he willfully and unlawfully damaged the house valued at Sh20 million, according to the charge sheet. 

The magistrate heard that he committed the offence jointly with others not before court. The house is property of Batuk Lakhamshi Lalji Shah. 

Court documents indicate that the State has at least five witnesses. Hearing of the case is scheduled to start on December 11, 2022.

Upon arrest by the police, Mr Baraza claimed that he had a court order to evict the family, who have allegedly owned the property for the last 46 years.

The family was allegedly given 30 minutes to remove their household items before the house was demolished.

Separately, Mr Baraza is facing another legal battle at the Environment and Lands High Court which is set to issue a ruling on whether he will be  sentenced to a jail term for contempt of Court

Justice Oscar Angote is tomorrow (Friday) expected to rule on whether the court has powers to commit the auctioneer to civil jail for disobeying a court order.

His lawyers had argued that the ELC court lacked the powers, adding that calling for the case file from another judicial officer (magistrate) was unconstitutional.

Last week he failed to show up in court and his lawyers alleged that he was unwell.