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Police to detain city housing boss longer over collapsed building

Nairobi’s director of housing, who approved the construction of a building that later collapsed in Huruma estate killing seven residents, will spend 14 more days in custody as police draft murder charges against her.

Ms Jane Wanjiku Ndonga appeared before a magistrate at the Makadara law courts Friday amidst heavy security where the police applied for extension of time to remand her.

“At the time of the incident, the accused person was the Director of Housing Develoment department at Dandora…the accused approved the construction of the building. I strongly believe the accused was involved in commission of the crime,”Corporal Richard Wesonga Oyallah told the court.

GATHER EVIDENCE

He said investigators are following crucial leads to gather more evidence from witnesses and are also collecting more exhibits for analysis.

The suspect was arrested on Thursday, the officer said, adding that it was not practicable to charge her forthright despite the 24 hour deadline for presenting an arrested person in court.

Makadara resident magistrate William Oketch certified the request as urgent and overruled Ms Oyallah’s lawyer on releasing her on bail.

The police officer argued that had Ms Wanjiku properly inspected inspected the building, then it should not have been constructed and subsequently occupied.

‘There are other suspects were are tracing and I request to be given 14 days,” Mr Wesonga said.

Ms Wanjiku’s lawyer said she is diabetic, but the magistrate observed that no medical documents concerning her treatment or alleged condition had been presented before the court as evidence.

The magistrate rejected a further request for a cash bail despite pleas that the suspect was willing to co-operate fully with investigators.

“Investigations in such an offence are intricate and complex requiring diligence, thus the fair position would be to strike a balance between the rights of the suspect and the public interest to meet the ends of administration of justice,” the magistrate ruled.

 

CRACK THE WHIP

He said Ms Wanjiku may not suffer any prejudice in light of ongoing investigations. She is the first suspect to be held in the collapsed building probe after the President ordered the police to get to the bottom of the matter and parade culpable officials in court.

Nairobi governor Evans Kidero also cracked the whip following the January 4 incident by sending home six officials involved in city planning.

The incident came in the wake of a similar collapse in Makongeni in which five people were killed.

Formal charges are yet to be preferred against the Makongeni building owner who was arrested at a hideout in Dandora.