The wife of Mombasa tycoon Ali Punjani, who is being sought by police over alleged drug trafficking, was Tuesday arrested as the government intensified its crackdown on suspected drug lords.
Ms Karki Sushmi Ja, a 24-year-old Nepalese, was arrested alongside two men of Nepalese and Indian origin in an operation conducted by more than 20 police officers, including those from the anti-narcotics unit, at Mr Punjani’s residence in Nyali suburb.
The Nepalese man identified as Shiva Prasad Bashyal is Ms Sushmi’s cousin, who has been visiting since May. He was arrested with two rolls of bhang and cash in Sh100, Sh50 and Sh200 denominations.
The Indian national, Mr Ram Manoj, 31, sources at the home said, was Mr Punjani's cook.
Mombasa police commander Johnston Ipara said the suspects, according to their travelling documents, have been frequenting Tanzania. Police confiscated the foreigners’ documents, including passports, a birth certificate and an ID that Ms Sushmi had. “We believe these people were hiding here when we came yesterday (Monday). We were denied access and yet they were in here. They are our suspects and we are going to interrogate them further,” said Mr Ipara.
He added that two workers were arrested and will be charged with giving false information to police. After the day-long search, police maintained that Mr Punjani was still a drug trafficking suspect.
The officers were accompanied by Mr Punjani’s lawyers led by Jeff Asige.
Separately in court, principal magistrate Edgar Kagoni dismissed an application seeking to detain Bofu MCA Ahmed Salama Omar for three days to investigate him over drug trafficking allegations.
He said there was no merit in the application filed through the DPP and ordered Mr Omar released.
Meanwhile, more than 50 people were yesterday charged in Shanzu and Mombasa law courts for being in possession of and trafficking drugs.
In Shanzu, of the 20 cases that were read, half of them were of people found with heroin, while the other half was for those who were found with bhang and cocaine.
“We are glad that we co-operated with the police and as far as we are concerned there are no narcotics that were found and linked to our client," he said, confirming that his client was in India receiving treatment.
But Mr Ipara insisted that the suspect is directly or indirectly involved in the illicit business.
“We still maintain that and we are going to prove this when we are done with searching all his houses,” said Mr Ipara who was accompanied by county DCI boss Anthony Muriithi.
Mr Ipara added that they are also hunting down two of Mr Punjani's relatives who were last seen driving towards Kwale County.
Separately in court, Principal magistrate Edgar Kagoni dismissed an application by the police seeking to detain a Ward Rep for three days to investigate him over drug trafficking allegations.
The magistrate said there was no merit in the application filed through the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and ordered Mr Ahmed Salama Omar set free.
However, the court directed Mr Omar, the Bofu Ward representative to co-operate with the police when they need him.
The magistrate further noted that investigation officer in the case Mr Charles Onyango had confirmed that there were no drugs recovered and no witness statement had been recorded.
“Therefore the possibility of interfering with witnesses is nil,” said Mr Kagoni adding that since the MCA’s premises had already been searched he did not think there is any other place police would want to search.
The arrest of the MCA happened barely a day after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i announced a renewed war on drug dealers.
In their application, police sought to be granted three days to detain Mr Omar who was arrested on Monday, to complete investigations.
“On August 12 at around 15:45 hours at Likoni area, the applicants (police) acting on a multi-agency intelligence and tip off from informers arrested the respondent with suspicions of trafficking narcotics within coast region,” the application stated in part.
The court was further told that police were investigating the MCA together with other suspected traffickers who are at large.
In his affidavit in support of the application, Mr Onyango told the court that initial investigation by police is that the MCA has been involved in trafficking narcotics within the coast region.
“We are apprehensive that the respondent might interfere with the witnesses who we intend to rely on,” said Mr Onyango.
Through lawyer Yusuf Aboubakar, the MCA opposed the application which he termed as a political witch-hunt against him.
Mr Aboubakar told the court that it appeared that police were not ready to charge the MCA with trafficking narcotics drug and were intending to use the law to continue holding him in their custody without any basis.
“The application is without basis and is a clear demonstration of police abuse of the court process,” said Mr Aboubakar adding that the MCA was ready to report to Likoni or Port police station whenever he was required by police.
The lawyer said Mr Omar had demonstrated his willingness to co-operate with the police by giving police access to his residence.
Meanwhile, more than 50 people were yesterday charged in different in Shanzu and Mombasa law courts for being possession and trafficking of drugs.
In Shanzu of the 20 cases that were read at the Shanzu Court half of them were of people found with heroin while the other half was for those who were found with bhang and cocaine.
The suspect who was found to be in possession of the huge quantity of heroin was Jaffar Mwinyi Hajji who had 200 grammes of the substance estimated to be worth Sh 100,000.
The court heard that on August 12 at Mtwapa in Kilifi County Mwinyi Hajji was found to be trafficking heroin that was packed in a brown envelope.
He denied the charges before senior resident magistrate David Odhiambo and was released on a Sh500,000 bond with surety of similar amount with an alternative of Sh 200,000 cash bail.
His case will be mentioned on December 16.
While the person who was found to be in possession of the least amount of heroin was Ibrahim Mohammed who was caught at Kadzandani in Kisauni with two sachets with street value of Sh2400.
He was caught on August 12 and was given a bond of Sh200,000.
Others who were charged with the same offence were, Juma Iddi, Samuel Munene, Mohammed Kingi, Lewis Lewa, Felix Auma, Eric Otieno, Innocent Odhiambo among others.
Those found to be in possession of bhang the suspect with the highest quantity was Kallian Charo Thuo who had 70 grammes worth Sh 700 and the one with the lowest quantity was Jefa Kahindi who was caught with one roll worth Sh10.
They all denied the charges, Thuo was released on a Sh200,000 bond while Kahindi was put on a six months’ probation.
Thuo’s hearing will be on December 19.
This comes a few days after Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i launched war against drugs trafficking that he attributed to the increase of young killer gangs in the region.
The CS vowed that the journey would be a painful despite the risks involved.
Reports by Ahmed Mohammed, Mishi Gongo and Philip Muyanga