Empty barrels of ethanol, broken bottles, empty shelves, and pallets were the scenes that Nairobi Chief Magistrate Francis Andayi’s encountered when he toured Africa Spirits Limited factory in Thika town.
The magistrate toured the facility owned by tycoon Humphrey Kariuki who is facing a Sh41 billion tax evasion case to assess the extent of damage after reports of repeated vandalism and theft of evidence.
The factory visit, under heavy police presence, follows an application by the owner following repeated vandalism and widespread damage to the property after the facility was declared a crime scene.
Inside the factory, defence lawyers led by Cecil Miller and Wilfred Nderitu, showed the court the vandalised gates and warehouses with seals welded by Kenya Revenue Authority stolen.
Nderitu told the court that the marking on the doors clearly showed that the warehouses were broken into before it was welded back.
“We have witnessed that the warehouses supposed to have been secured with KRA seals and which were not supposed to have been entered were broken into. There are lots of empty bottles of drinking water with production dates of a few months ago. There is evidence of vandalism and theft of alcohol. In addition, there is evidence of loss of computers' CPUs, breakage of drawers for over a year," the lawyer said.
The server room was also forcibly broken into and machines vandalized.
In one of the warehouses identified as A, it was established that a KRA customs seal that had been used to secure the doors was missing.
It also emerged that the doors to the warehouse had been welded together, but it was unclear when that was done.
In another warehouse where finished products were stored before shipment, an entire stretch of shelves was found empty with vandalized pallets thrown all over the floor.
Andayi was informed that the General Service Unit formally took over control of security at the premises on June 24 this year.
Before that, the factory was guarded by regular police from Thika.
Meanwhile, the court has directed the Director of Public Prosecution to respond to the application by Kariuki's firm immediately and the other parties to respond to the same in the next seven days.
The court will hold a virtual mention on September 28.