Jack and Jill Supermarket in Nairobi was Thursday looted by a crowd hours after the owner had moved to the High Court to challenge an eviction order by a court.
The looting started after a tractor demolished part of the building, destroying goods of unknown value. Workers said they were caught off-guard.
However, it was not clear whether the attempted demolition was connected to the High Court case. The supermarket, one of the oldest in the country, had been ordered to vacate the premises on Temple Road in downtown Nairobi within seven days.
The supermarketâ€™s management had said, in an application to the High Court, that vacating the premises, which it has occupied for last 30 years, within a week was impossible and would lead to losses of up to Sh100 million.
â€œMuch of the stock in trade is perishable and is due and payable to suppliers and creditors, who are unlikely to be paid were the orders to vacate herein to be implemented in seven days as ordered by the court,â€ said the supermarketâ€™s management.
The company claimed that if the order was effected it would close leading to loss of employment for its 120 workers. The order was issued following an application by Victor Maina Ngunjiri, who acquired the premises in 2007.
Jack and Jill said that Mr Ngunjiriâ€™s application was in bad faith and accused him of trying to evict it and start a similar business with the hope of inheriting its goodwill among customers built over many years.
Through an affidavit by managing director Tom Onyancha, Jack and Jill said that Mr Ngunjiri had in the past sought to evict its business unsuccessfully, adding that the dispute dated back to 2008.
The company said that Mr Ngunjiri at one point filed a case in court secretly and obtained orders for the building hosting the business to be demolished on grounds that the building had been condemned.