A Polish investor, Ms Iwona Strezelecka, is counting losses after her posh hotel in Diani, Hotel Sonrisa, was demolished following a land row with businessman SK Macharia.
The hotel was demolished by Five Elven Traders Ltd, an auctioneering company that said that it had received court orders to bring down the hotel on behalf of SK Macharia.
“We have a court order issued on February 17, instructing that we get police assistance to execute a decree issued on October 13, 2014, on this land,” Janvan Ngunda, who is one of the auctioneers, said.
According to SK Macharia, the hotel sat on a piece of land which is part of his land under title deed number Galu/Kinondo/50, which he says he bought in 1981.
The orders were issued by Justice N. Nabibya in Mombasa, allowing Macharia to evict Ali Khan Ali Muses and Estate Sonrisa Ltd from the land.
The Polish investor came to Kenya in 2007 when she bought shares from Estate Sonrisa Limited, which owns plot number Kwale/Galu Kinondo/48, in Diani.
Initially, Strezelecka, through lawyer Oluoch-Wambi, had obtained injunction orders barring Macharia and Five Elven from demolishing the hotel on January 23, pending hearing and determination of the matter.
In the case which dates back to 2014, it was ruled that Sonrisa and Ali had encroached Macharia’s land, before the two made an appeal in 2016 which was dismissed.
“If the party encroaching fails to move and vacate, the party whose land has been encroached shall be at liberty after the said sixty (60) days to demolish such encroaching with the help of the court bailiff who will be assisted by the nearest Police Officer,” the court ruled.
According to the title deed, Sonrisa’s land measures 0.9 hectares while on the ground, the land measures 1.9 hectares. Macharia said that the hotel hived off one hectare of his land.
Hotel Sonrisa had 11 guest rooms, staff quarters, a bar, a restaurant, among other amenities.
“What we have invested in for over 10 years was put down in under two hours without any warning and without giving us even one minute to remove our belongings. I’m left with what I had on myself. There are only three villas remaining. We have lost approximately Ksh200 million,” said Strezelecka, who is married to veteran Kenyan rally driver Azar Anwar.
The two excavator drivers had no documents to support their actions and were arrested when police came but were released on cash bail.
“We are still waiting for the criminal case to start. It has failed to start twice, with each time being postponed because of a missing file,” the Polish investor said.