Kenya Re bosses face civil jail for tenant's eviction over rent

Wednesday June 12 2019

Kenya Re Plaza

The Kenya Reinsurance Plaza in Nairobi as pictured on September 20, 2018.. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NMG  

RICHARD MUNGUTI
By RICHARD MUNGUTI
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Police are searching for three top managers of the Kenya Reinsurance Corporation for committal to 30 days in civil jail over an irregular eviction over more than Sh500,000 in rent arrears.

Acting chief executive Jacqueline Njue, company secretary Charles Kariuki and property manager John Rika are being sought by the Central Police Station OCS and a court bailiff, alongside Stanley Mugacha T/A Galaxy Auctioneers.

Ms Njue took over in acting capacity as Kenya Re's Managing Director and chief executive officer as Jadiah Mwarania was away.

The four parties were found guilty of contempt of court for kicking out a tenant of 14 years in flagrant disobedience of a court order restraining them from doing so.

The commercial court's Senior Resident Magistrate, Isaac Orenge, slapped them with a fine of Sh150,000 each, the alternative being committal to civil jail for that period.

THE ORDER

The magistrate noted that the four parties disobeyed a court order issued on December 31, 2018 restraining Kenya-Re, its agents or servants from evicting Crownbit Limited from the building.

Mr Orenge said Kenya Re instructed Galaxy Auctioneers on February 5, 2018 to break into the premises let to Crownbit in 2015 in a bid to recover rent arrears of Sh537,665.

Crownbit had leased a business space measuring 333 square feet.

Although Kenya-Re obtained a break-in order, the magistrate pointed out, the court was categorical that it was not an eviction order.

The break-in saw one Mr Christopher Mbindyo evicted from the Mezzanine floor of the Kenya Re building in Nairobi and his merchandise carted away by the auctioneers.

In March 2017, the corporation locked the premises for a year although the tenant had been paying but had not been operating.

PROOF

Mr Orenge said Mr Mbindyo proved that Kenya Re acted in contempt of court as it knew of the existence of the order preserving the premises leased to Crownbit.

He added that Crownbit remained the legal tenant of the premises in dispute.

“A party must comply with an order whatever he/she may think of it,” the magistrate said. "As long as a party has knowledge of the existence of a court order but defies it, he or she cannot escape the legal consequences.”

Lawyer William Arusei had urged the court to “deal firmly with the contemnors so that [likeminded ones] cannot ridicule or bring the administration of justice into disrepute”.

“The culture of disobeying court orders and decisions has reached very high levels of impunity so courts must exercise their constitutional authority of punishing those in contempt," said Mr Arusei.

The magistrate said, “So long as the injunctive order exists, Kenya-Re is bound to obey the same to the letter."