The High Court rules that the 7,100 acres, which comprises three villages, belongs to one family.
In three villages of Mariakani where thousands of hapless locals are facing imminent eviction, Nazua Chiti Tsuma, an octogenarian, awaits the end.
She is among the 35,000 members of three clans who have lived on the land for decades but who received a shocker when a court awarded it to an individual.
Not far away in famed Bamba location in Ganze, 40,000 other people face a similar fate as a bank moves in to auction the land they call home over a defaulted loan facility.
Undeterred by the scorching sun and thick and thorny shrubs, Chiti strolls into the forest to show us historical marks to fortify their ancestral claim to the land.
She sits on her husband’s grave, which has a headstone to indicate he was buried in 1980. Next to it is her father-in-law buried in 1960 and around them shrines, communal boreholes and other features.
“Even if tomorrow is the judgment day we will not throw in the towel,” said Chiti with a quavering but defiant voice.
On July 19, the Environment and Lands Court in Malindi ruled that the swathe of land, 7,100 acres, nearly a whole location, belongs to the late Mumba Ngala Chome and his descendants.
The ruling has sparked fear among three villages of Mwabeja, Mwamundu and Mwakai of Mitangoni in Mariakiani, Kilifi County, who now face eviction threats.
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“The declaration is hereby made that the parcel of land known as Kilifi/Madzimbani/Mitangoni/B/1 measuring 2.861ha is owned by the clan of Mumba Chome Ngala,” ruled Justice JO Olola.
The court now wants the National Land Commission (NLC) to either acquire the land from Chome or other places to resettle the three clans.
“The land on which public institutions have been constructed to be acquired by the NLC pursuant to the provisions of the law relating to the compulsory acquisition,” the judge ruled.
Chome’s son, Tsangwa Chome Ngala, and the three clans have for decades been embroiled in a tussle over the land but it escalated in 2010 when KETRACO requested to buy 200 acres from the Mariakani Town Council.
“It was all about the compensation money. KETRACO paid out Sh26 million for the acquisition of land but there were a lot of interests,” said Hamis Yawa, one of the affected.
The defunct Mariakani Town Council had earlier said the parcel was trust land but the court and NLC insist the land belongs to Chome. Other than the villagers, at stake also are five public primary schools, two public secondary schools and a public health centre.
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Other reports indicate that the power distribution state agency has since paid more than Sh130 million for the land, which is situated next to Mariakani 77 Barracks.
“It is laughable that a person can claim the ownership of a whole location. I believe he is just a decoy used to facilitate KETRACO payment to some powerful people,” says Mr Maur Bwanamaka, who is among the well-wishers assisting the locals in the case.
Bwanamaka said they have filed a notice of appeal against the High Court ruling, which he termed a big joke and shame.