(UPDATED) March 7th, 2023: The Jefwa brothers are no longer wanted. During testimony today during the trial for Abdurahman Mahmoud Sheikh and 8 others, Senior Superintendent James Githinji, stated that the Jefwa’s had applied to the High Court in Mombasa for anticipatory bail. The High Court ruled that the DCI are to take statements from the brothers and then release them pending a decision by the ODPP on the course of action to take. Based on today’s testimony, that could well mean no charges to be laid. More to follow.
March 2nd, 2023: It was speculated in conversation recently that the Jefwa brothers may be ready to turn themselves in. At first ‘glance’, the idea seems preposterous. The have been on Interpol’s ‘Red List’ (for most) of the last eight years. Why would they possibly do this now?
Digging down a little, however, it could actually make sense.
To jog some memories, in March and April of 2015, three sea containers, purporting to be tea, left Mombasa Port for Laos and Vietnam. Acting on a tip off, customs officials intercepted one container in Port Laem Chabang, Thailand, and the other two in Singapore. Both consignments contained bags of tea leaves but stashed amongst the tea leaves, were over seven tonnes of ivory.
The Jefwa brothers were among the first to come under the microscope of the investigation. Nicholas Mweri Jefwa, 44 yrs of age, and his brother Samuel Bakari Jefwa, 30 yrs, were no strangers to the Mombasa Port. They started their own company, Potential Quality Supplies, which got together in an illicit partnership with a Mombasa tea distributor, Almasi Chai. They combined tea purchased from Almasi (no receipts provided) with ivory. Much of the ivory is believed to have been supplied through the West African cartel.
Investigation revealed that, besides the containers seized in Thailand and Singapore, they had shipped at least 3 other containers of ‘tea’ prior to the Thailand seizure.
It did not take long for Nicholas and Samuel Jefwa to flee the Mombasa area and they have been on the run ever since. Meanwhile, alleged co-conspirators, Abdulrahman Mahmoud Sheikh and eight others, have been charged with offences relating to the Thailand seizure which have been before the Mombasa court since June 2015.
At the last court appearance, the prosecution announced it was planning to close its case by calling its last witnesses on March 6th and 7th, 2023. It is generally recognised the case for the prosecution is not strong and it has certainly been damaged due to complications in the obtaining evidence through mutual legal assistance with Thailand.
There has been ample evidence over the years that Jefwa’s have been protected from arrest by persons in places higher than the police. With recent changes in Kenyan politics, perhaps they no longer have the protection they once had. With the primary prosecution of the Sheikh’s et al nearing conclusion (in theory) and conviction being a long shot, this would actually be a good time to surrender themselves.
They would almost certainly have the resources to provide whatever was required for bail and at worst, would have to avail themselves for court, perhaps 10 to 12 times a year for how long? They could continue to lead normal lives without the overhanging threat of arrest. If they were charged, perhaps under the East African Community Customs Management Act, they would face a maximum 5 year sentence if convicted. Precedent has already been set with a Mombasa court with a 2 year sentence to similarly charged accused in a recent ivory case, with one of the accused being granted non-custodial probation.
Speculation? Perhaps we will see.