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Land agency asks police to stop evicting squatters

The National Land Commission (NLC) has intervened to stop the eviction of 2,108 squatters from a disputed parcel of land in Bamburi, Mombasa County.

In a letter to the Inspector General of Police, the NLC accused some police officers in Mombasa of carrying out illegal evictions.

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Families who were evicted from the land two weeks ago by the police are spending nights in the cold.

“The squatters on land parcel No. 423/Sec.1 MN/Bamburi Utange measuring 135 acres have continued to be harassed by a private investor who is using the police to evict them and destroy their homesteads,” states a letter signed by NLC Commissioner Samuel Tororei to the IG.

The squatters claim ancestral ownership of the land which is owned by Njeri Njenga Kagiri, a private developer, who wants the squatters evicted.

Since 2010, the families have been evicted more than 10 times from the plot, referred to as Lamkani, after Ms Kagiri started to subdivide and sell it.

Kagiri claims ownership of the entire land which she inherited from her late husband Jeremiah Nyaga in 1979.

“We have lost our properties and our children are sick because we have been sleeping outside since armed police destroyed our houses,” said Nguma Charo, the chairman of the squatters.

Resolve dispute

He said trouble started in 2010 when their houses were first pulled down from what he termed their ancestral land.

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Scores of Kaya elders have on many occasions led demonstrations against the evictions of the squatters and called on the NLC and the national government to intervene.

According to Dr Tororei, the squatters should be left on the land until the commission meets the two warring parties to resolve the ownership dispute.

“The letter is therefore to request you to prevail upon the police officers in Mombasa to facilitate enforcement of the status quo for peace and tranquility to prevail,” states the letter dated August 8 this year.

On October 31, 2013, NLC Chairman Muhammad Swazuri summoned Kagiri after the squatters wrote to the commission alleging that their land had been grabbed.

The Standard however has established that Kagiri obtained orders to evict the squatters from the land after the court ruled that she is the rightful owner of the land.

“We are aware that the courts made judgments and issued orders in respect of the parcel. The residents are (however) claiming occupation to the said land, while you are claiming ownership,” said Swazuri in the letter to Kagiri then.

In June last year, the commission further wrote to Kisauni Assistant County Commissioner asking him to summon Kagiri after the evictions by the police persisted.

Prof Swazuri said the NLC has powers to negotiate between the two parties and directed that the status quo be maintained until the commission meets the squatters and the private investor.

The squatters appealed to the Government to intervene, saying a majority of them lost national identity cards in the wake of the latest demolition of their homes.

“We fear for the health of our children after our houses were demolished,” said Rehema Kahindi.

“We have been frustrated by those who claim ownership of this land. Police officers have kept us out of the plot,” she said.

A Kaya elder Hamisi Chiringa claimed President Kenyatta stopped evictions of Coast squatters when he toured Mariakani recently and wondered why the Lamkani squatters were thrown out.

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