Church demands Sh400m refund from Uchumi


Uchumi Supermarkets branch in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The church group that bought part of Uchumi Supermarket’s Kasarani land is demanding a refund of Sh401 million plus interest if the retailer fails to close the transaction in 21 days.

Jesus Winners Ministry said it had taken out a loan and paid the money to the retailer but has waited four years to conclude the transaction that is now stuck at the Ministry of Trade.

The church group has now issued a 21-day ultimatum to the retailer to either conclude the sale or refund the money with 24 percent interest on the deposit.

Uchumi signed a sale agreement with Jewel Complex, a company belonging to the church group, which had committed to buy the 20-acre piece of land for Sh2.8 billion.

However, the Kenya Defence Force (KDF) moved its equipment and set up a camp on the prime parcel in Kasarani on Thika Superhighway claiming 17 acres of the property, creating a standoff with the cash-strapped retailer.

The church agreed to buy the three acres not in dispute pending approval from the Trade Ministry, which is led by Cabinet secretary Betty Maina.

It is unclear why the government has not cleared Uchumi to sell the property even after the retailer obtained a no objection letter from the military to dispose of the parcel.

“We have issued a 21-day notice dated May 4, 2022, as per the sale agreement for them (Uchumi) to transfer the title to our name. We appeal to the CS Trade and Enterprise development Betty Maina, the PS Amb. Johnson Weru and the board of Uchumi Supermarkets to conclude the process,” said Rev Edward Mwai.

“If the process is not concluded the government should refund us all the money we have paid plus 24 percent interest as the contract stipulates,” he said.

Uchumi has been struggling to recover, weighed down by multibillion debt to and other creditors.

The High Court had stopped the planned sale and all pending debt recovery cases, outstanding loans, and rent claims against Uchumi, in favour of a voluntary settlement with creditors.

The supermarket’s creditors will meet on May 30. At the meeting, the retailer and 121 suppliers are expected to review agreements on how to settle Sh4.2 billion owed to them and ensure the payments are made on time.

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