13 arrested over Pinewood Beach Resort dispute

Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa

Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa in Diani, Kwale County where auctioneers accompanied by suspected goons attacked staff and guests in this photo taken on November 27, 2023.

Photo credit: Kevin Odit | Nation Media Group

Thirteen suspects have been arrested in connection with an attack on staff and damage to property at a hotel on Diani Beach following a forced entry by receivers in a loan dispute with Kenya Commercial Bank.

The management of Pinewood Beach Resort and Spa said the 60-bed capacity hotel was over 50 percent full when the attackers forced their way in and started beating up workers, including security guards on November 17, 2023.

According to a report from the Diani Police Station, the hotel owner, Mr Ahil Kanji, reported that a group of about 100 goons armed with machetes and assorted crude weapons entered the hotel but were repelled by security guards in a violent confrontation.

The police report said three staff members were injured by the thugs, although the hotel's general manager, Pamela Mishai, said 18 people were injured.

 "The arrested goons are to be charged with malicious damage to property, assault causing actual bodily harm, causing a disturbance in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace and trespassing on private property," says a police report from Diani Police Station. It adds that a German adult male staying at the hotel lost his Canon camera in the melee. The police said that no guest was injured in the commotion.

Coast Regional Police Commander Kenneth Kimani said he was yet to get a full report on the matter.

 "We are getting cancellations and some tourists have decided to check out on the same day. We now have only five guests. We were fully booked for December and January but everything is gone," she said.

 KCB appointed a receiver for the assets of Pearl Beach Hotels Limited T/A English Point Marina Hotel in 2022 after English Point Marina defaulted on its loan repayment obligations under various facilities granted to it. As of 31 July 2023, English Point Marina's loan account had an outstanding balance of Sh5.8 billion.

 The bank is said to be puzzled by the attempts by Mr Kanji and other directors of Pinewood to prevent its receiver from gaining access to the hotel's  premises.

 Speaking to Nation.Africa at the hotel, Ms Mishai claimed that more than 20 tourists had called to cancel their December holidays.

"We are in court, I don't see why there should be an alarm or cancellations," she told one tourist calling from Canada.

Ms Mishai said on Tuesday that some of the injured hotel staff were still recuperating from deep panga cuts on their heads.

But the tourist said she was terrified by videos of the attacks that have since gone viral.

Ms Mishai claimed the attackers arrived in six vans, three small cars, a Probox car, another small car and a canter full of crude weapons, uniforms and padlocks. 

The report from Diani Police Station indicated that police had to fire in the air to disperse the attackers.

 "I have noted with concern the violence at Pinewood Beach Resort by hired  goons. This behavior by receivers & auctioneers against hotels & restaurants will not be tolerated. Stern action is being taken. Upholding  of the law & civility are key to encourage and not deter visitors," Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua posted on his X account.

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