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Eviction threat as 98-year-old woman fights to reclaim land

By Patrick Kibet | Published Mon, April 16th 2018 at 09:28, Updated April 16th 2018 at 09:32 GMT +3
Salome Tapkurgor outside her house in Kampi ya Moto in Nakuru County. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

An elderly woman is crying out for justice after fruitless efforts to secure ownership for a piece of land.

Salome Tapkurgor claims the land was allocated to her in the 1970s alongside squatters who worked in the Ex-Jack Settlement Scheme.

“I was allocated seven-and-a-half acres in Kampi ya Moto Plot 14 by the State in the mid-1970s. Before independence I was employed to herd goats and cattle for a white settler here,” Ms Tapkurgor narrated outside her mud-walled house in Kampi ya Moto.

The 98-year-old grandmother easily recalled the years she worked on Jack Farm before the land was taken over by the Government after Kenya attained independence.

She and her fellow squatters on the expansive farm were later given seven acres each by the Kenyatta government, where they settled for years.

But Tapkurgor left Kampi ya Moto for family reasons.

Ageing mother

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“In the early 1980s I went to Nandi District with my mother and left the land in the care of Pedro Kiprotich to plough. I stayed in Nandi for eight years nursing my ageing mother."

When she returned to Kampi ya Moto, it was to the shocking news that her land had a new owner, Kanyiri Iregi, who is now deceased.

“When I came back I found the late Kanyiri, who claimed to have bought the land from Kiprotich. But Kiprotich claimed he had only leased the land,” she said.

She said she settled on the land and built a house but any hopes of a peaceful life were short-lived as she tussled with Kanyiri.

“I built my house near the main road. However, my battles with the late Kanyiri and his agents began. They came and destroyed my house, leaving me and my family in the cold,” she narrated.

Tapkurgor, whose health is failing due to her advanced age, said they raided her farm on five different occasions, destroying her house and maize stores and rendering her a pauper.

She is now calling on the Government to intervene and give her the title deed to her land.

“I adopted two children who are now grown up and have their own families. Why is the Government dilly-dallying with my title deed? Where will these children live if I don’t get the land documents while I am alive?” she wondered.

During a short interview with The Standard, Mr Kiprotich, who lives in a makeshift home a short distance from Kampi ya Moto trading centre, maintained he never sold the land to Kanyiri.

“I leased the land to Kanyiri for three years. He took advantage of my ignorance and claimed I had sold the land to him through my wife, which is not true,” he said.

Kiprotich said the land should be swiftly reverted to Tapkurgor to end her tribulations.

Correspondence between the Ministry of Lands and Settlement seen by The Standard shows the plot was allocated to Tapkurgor on August 15, 1977.

Legal documents

“The plot shown herein above has been allocated to the above-named and has executed legal documents for this plot, and I hereby enclose copies of the same for your retention,” Director of Settlement Felix Moga wrote to the settlement officer.

But the records also show on October 24, 1991, the Ministry of Lands issued a land title in favour of Kanyiri.

The dispute was first taken to the Land Dispute Tribunal, which ruled in favour of Kanyiri and allowed him to seek eviction orders from the courts.

In case number 19 of 2003 filed at the Nakuru Chief Magistrate's Court, Kanyiri asked for eviction orders against Tapkurgor. He claimed he had bought the land and was the legal owner.

Senior Principal Magistrate Nicholas Ateya issued an eviction notice on August 21, 2010, directing the OCS Menengai to provide security and assist auctioneers effect the eviction against Tapkurgor.

But the court file went missing in unclear circumstances in 2010.

And in a fresh development, the National Land Commission, in a gazette notice last July, directed the Chief Land Registrar to revoke the title issued to Liam Wamaitha Kanyiri and John Kanyiri Njuguna and revert the land to Tapkurgor.

Denied allegations

But Daniel Kanyiri Njuguna, a son of Kanyiri, denied allegations that his father had grabbed the land.

“When my father was scouting for land, he met with one Pedro Kiprotich who claimed to be the legal owner and who sold the land to my father. At that time she (Tapkurgor) was not living on the land,” he said.

He claimed that Tapkurgor had refused to vacate the land even after the Land Tribunal ruled the land was rightfully acquired by his father, and has resisted eviction orders from the court.

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