Prominent Mombasa tycoon and owner of the TSS group of companies, Tahir Sheikh Said, died on Monday night in Milpark Hospital, South Africa. He was 74.
His Son Twahir Said said his father has been ailing for the past seven months.
“He has been sick since May, but the problem peaked in the month of October, after he was diagnosed with a blood infection,” he said.
Said said his father was flown to South Africa on December 15. He said the body will be flown back today.
Months ago, the tycoon appeared to be worn down by debts and fighting among his sons and other family members over the vast wealth.
The fighting, some of which ended in court, appeared to have taken a toll on Sheikh’s health.
Late last year, Sheikh obtained restraining court orders, stopping the Bank of Africa from forfeiting his assets over a Sh1 billion loan. He blamed his financial problems on some of his sons and a brother-in-law.
The orders also stopped the bank from accessing assets of his other firms related to the one that had taken the loan.
The bank wanted to access assets owned by TSS Transporters Ltd and TSS Investments Ltd, while the loan was taken by a related firm called Juja Coffee Exporters Ltd.
Five parcels of land in Mombasa, registered in the names of TSS Transporters Ltd and TSS Investments Ltd, are cited in the suit.
In May, TSS Unga Millers was taken by the Kenya Commercial Bank over another Sh1 billion loan. KCB, which has non-performing loans with TSS Unga Millers, issued a notice in May, indicating it had taken over operation of the miller.
Sheikh is said to have Sh8 billion in non-performing loans with several banks, booked under subsidiaries in his business empire.
His children also have a case in court, fighting for his property.
Son Sabir has accused his brother Noorein, of Transmara Logistics, of alleged fraud. Sabir, through lawyer Muriu Mungai, alleged the transfer and registration of vehicles and trailers by Noorein’s company was done fraudulently.
“I wish to put the record straight and refute claims by my brother [Noorein] that he owns three motor vehicles, two trailers and three 30,000-litre fuel tankers,” he said.
Mungai said Sabir is the bona fide owner of the vehicles, registered under TSS’s Pop In Service company in Nairobi. Sabir told Justice Njoki Mwangi he is the legal owner of the Pop In Service Stations chain.
He dismissed his brother’s claims that he will suffer loss if he is allowed to retain the property.
“Let Noorein prove he owns the property listed in this suit and prove the loss and damages he will incur if I retain the property,” Sabir said. Sabir’s lawyer said his client has no intention of unlawfully repossessing the vehicles.
He said his client is entitled to the repossession and use of all vehicles.
“The move was initiated after Sabir was instructed by the majority shareholders of TSS Investments to collect and account of assets at the service stations,” Sabir’s lawyer said.
Sabir said he was instructed to recover the vehicles after they were abandoned on the side of the road in Tudor, Mombasa county.
He said it was not until June that they discovered there was change of ownership of the vehicles after documents were filed in court through his brother.
“The service stations show the management was all this time oblivious of any change of ownership,” Sabir’s counsel said.
He said his client’s brother purported to convene a meeting of the board of directors of the service station early this year, knowing the meeting was not genuine.