Eleven men hired to evict destitute children from a disputed property in Pangani in Starehe Sub County were charged with arson and causing malicious damage to property worth Sh19.2 million after allegedly causing fire during a commotion at the facility.
They are Moses Omondi Oluoch, Musa Karioki Burundi, Alex Machuki Morara, Michael Omondi, Halkano Mohamed and Peter Nyamato.
Others are Joshua Nyambengera, Francis Mburu, Wilberforce Oyamo, Patrick Kandivila and Evans Magata.
They are accused of committing the offences on October 22 and they all denied the charges before principal magistrate Jackie Kibosia of Makadara law courts.
They are accused of willfully and unlawfully damaging a building containing fixtures and household properties valued at Sh19, 218,855 property of Kenya Evangelical Lutheran church.
The suspects are also charged with setting property ablaze after allegedly starting a fire during the commotion that ensued as they forcibly evicted the children from the property.
Their lawyer Robert Asembo told the court that they had been hired by a private developer who was at large and had no idea that the property had a pre-existing dispute.
Asembo had sought a deferral of plea taking, claiming an engineer who hired them and who has gone into hiding should be sought and charged instead and the 11 suspects be turned to prosecution witnesses against him.
“The accused persons are not the targeted arsonists. They are casual workers hired by an engineer for the work. To avoid a miscarriage of justice, we urge they be treated as witnesses. They did not know anything about the pre-existing dispute over the property and the engineer should be held responsible,” Asembo said.
The 11 were hired to forcibly kick out the occupants of the property where the Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church runs a children’s home. Asembo said they were paid Sh1000 each for the work.
The church said through a lawyer that property was looted and some individuals were injured and police are pursuing theft and assault charges against some of the suspects and their accomplices at large. The suspects were freed on a cash bail of Sh20, 000 each. Hearing of their case starts on December 14, 2021.