Jail beckons for auctioneer linked to violent Westlands eviction

Zachary Baraza of Siuma Auctioneers property westlands demolished

A court has ordered Mr Zachary Baraza of Siuma Auctioneers Ltd (left) to appear before it this week after he was linked to the illegal demolition of a Westlands property belong to Niraj Shah and his family.

Photo credit: Nation Media Group

An auctioneer linked to the illegal demolition of a residential house in Westlands has been ordered to appear before a top court for sentencing after he ignored court orders blocking destruction of the property. 

Justice Oscar Angote of the Lands and Environment Court has ordered Mr Zachary Baraza of Siuma Auctioneers Ltd to appear in court on Thursday November 17 for mitigation and sentencing over disobedience of court orders. 

Mr Baraza was cited in contempt of court orders dated October 18 and November 1, 2022 which barred the eviction of Niraj Shah and his family from the property. 

The judge said Mr Baraza abused his powers as an auctioneer by evicting the family without express orders or warrant from the court.

The judge went on to state that the auctioneer "disobeyed court orders by carting away household goods". 

According to the judge, the eviction was "completely contrary to orders of October 18 and November 1, 2022" which expressly prohibited him from evicting persons or residents living on the land. 

"It is the finding of this court that he did not only act contemptuously but abused powers that he has as an agent of this court. The issue of who actually demolished the building for now is neither here nor there having found the auctioneer went against court orders by evicting the residents without express orders of the court or warrants. I find that he is in contempt of the orders which were issued in presence of his advocate Nyanyuki," stated Justice Angote.

The law provides that whoever disobeys orders of the court is liable for imprisonment of two years or fine not exceeding Sh2 million. 

Descended on property

More than 25 people recently descended on the property belonging to Mr Shah and his family. 

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji has separately moved to have Mr Baraza detained for 14 days for further questioning over pulling down of the property, but Senior Principal Magistrate Gilbert Shikwe last week said that police did not present any evidence to warrant the continued detention of the auctioneer.

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