Two sons of a Mombasa politician and businessman Mohammed Bajaber are among suspects in the disappearance of Sh50 million of charity funds meant for the poor and people living with disabilities in Kilifi County while in transit from Uganda.
Sheikh Ali Yassir Bajaber and Mr Abdalla Salim Bajaber have been charged in a Mombasa court with diverting the money for personal use after collecting it from a donor in Uganda.
The money was meant for children with disabilities and other needy families at the Sahajanad Special School and Premji Farm Feeding Centre in Mtwapa, Kilifi County.
The donor visited the institutions last year and promised to support them by sending money to Bamburi Cement, which runs them.
Yassir and Salim and another suspect, Mr Joseph Munyao, were on Wednesday charged in a Shanzu court with the theft of the money.
The charge sheet states that the suspects, jointly with others not before the court, being agents of the Mombasa Cement Company, stole $500,000 (Sh50,150,000), which they were supposed to deliver to a Mr Mohamed Amir.
Yassir and Salim were further charged with trafficking in 234.6 grammes of bhang valued at Sh46,920.
The suspects, who appeared before Shanzu Resident Magistrate David Odhiambo, denied committing the offences in Mombasa and Nairobi on December 19, 2019 and January 23, 2020 respectively.
The court heard that after stealing the money, the suspects switched off their phones for a whole month, from December 19, last year to January 22, 2020 The suspects were arrested at Emilia Apartments in Kileleshwa, Nairobi, where they had rented a serviced apartment at Sh35,000.
Mr Salim was allegedly found with a rifle and 44 bullets.
Police are investigating if the gun has been used in criminal activities.
The court heard that Mr Yassir and Mr Salim had been sent to collect the money but after receiving it, they switched off their phones and disappeared.
In an affidavit opposing their release on bond, the police claimed that the suspects confirmed to Mr Amir via a phone call that they had received the money and would be making their way back into the country.
“Later on the same day, their mobile phones were switched off. Efforts to reach them were unsuccessful for some days and they never delivered the donation,” Mr Amir told the police.
Police said that after stealing the money, the suspects went on a spending marathon and bought a Toyota Axio at a cost of Sh1.2 million, all paid in cash.
According to the prosecution, the vehicle was bought on January 21, at Trade AT (K) Ltd in Mombasa.
“The theft was carefully planned and executed by all the accused persons, as the evidence in our possession connects each of them to the offence,” said prosecutor Eric Masila.
The prosecutor also informed the court that the suspects are under investigation for a motor vehicle theft syndicate, running across several countries, including South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.
The probe followed the seizure of several unregistered motor vehicles linked to the suspects.
After the theft of the money, the prosecutor said the two suspects had planned to flee the country to Mecca and Medina.
“On January 8, the accused persons deposited their passports at Shimasy Travel Company Ltd to secure visas with the intention to leave the jurisdiction of this country in order to evade arrest,” Mr Masila said.
The prosecutor said the police are yet to explore some 20 sim cards recovered from the suspects, which are expected to lead to the arrest of the suspects’ accomplices.
The police are also investigating whether Mr Salim has a firearm certificate.
The suspects, through their advocate Boaz Adalla, successfully applied for bond, terming the allegations by the prosecution baseless and unfounded.
Mr Salim and Mr Yassir were each released on Sh15 million bond with an alternative cash bail of Sh10 million while Mr Munyao was granted Sh10 million bond with an alternative cash bail of Sh7 million.
The court further directed that the securities deposited be fixed assets accompanied by a valuation report from a government officer.
The case will be mentioned on February 14.
BY BRIAN OCHARO