Auctioneer accused of demolishing couple's house out on Sh200,000 bond

Zachariah Baraza

Auctioneer Zachariah Baraza was freed on a cash bail of Sh200,000.

Photo credit: Richard Munguti | Nation Media Group

An auctioneer linked to the demolition of a residential house in Westlands has been released on a cash bail of Sh200,000.

Rejecting a plea by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji to have Zachariah Baraza detained for 14 days for further questioning over the weekend pulling down of the property, Senior Principal Magistrate Gilbert Shikwe said police had not presented any evidence to warrant the continued detention of the auctioneer.

The DPP had also wanted Mr Baraza to be detained for further questioning over the invasion and demolition of the house belonging to businessman Niraj Shah.

The magistrate heard that more than 25 people descended on the property and pulled it down, subjecting Mr Shah and his family to agony, suffering, and mental anguish.

Demolished house

Mr Niraj Shah and his wife Avani Shah on November 8, 2022, walk on what remains of their home on School Lane in Westlands after a gang evicted them and demolished their house.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

“Baraza, who is an auctioneer, led about 25 people into the property in dispute in Westlands, Nairobi, along School Lane, then destroyed the establishments therein,” a state prosecutor told Mr Shikwe.

Needed more time

Police, the magistrate heard, needed more time to interrogate the auctioneer thoroughly with a view to establishing the real identity of the people behind the invasion and demolition of Mr Shah’s property.

But defence lawyer Bryan Khaemba opposed the plea, saying Mr Baraza had “committed no wrong since he is an officer of the court by virtue of being an auctioneer”.

Mr Khaemba said Mr Baraza was carrying out instructions from his clients who claimed ownership of the one-acre parcel of land on which the house was built.

Releasing the auctioneer, Mr Shikwe said bail is a constitutional right of any suspect being investigated over any criminal offence or even after arraignment.

He directed him to cooperate with the investigators.

The magistrate further said the police did not file a holding charge against Mr Baraza to enable the court to peg its decision on it.

He said no evidence was presented before him to show that the auctioneer is a flight risk or has the potential to interfere with investigations.

The magistrate directed that the matter be mentioned on November 22, 2022 for further directions.