Malindi High Court restores hotel to Swiss nationals

A section of Mawimbi Lodge in Watamu, Kilifi County. A Malindi Court has ordered the eviction of a woman claiming to own the Lodge. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]
A Malindi Environment and Land Court has ordered police to evict a Kenyan woman from a tourist hotel she assumed ownership after death of its owner in 1999.

The court has determined the acquisition was illegal and should be reversed.

This after the lapse of 30 days deadline by the Justice James Otieno Olola ruled that the Kenyan who claimed to be the step daughter of a Swiss national had no right to own the property.

Damaris Nthenye arrogated herself the properties, including Watamu Village in Kilifi after the death of its owner, a Swiss national, Mr. Daniel Bernard Hefti, according to court records but now the High Court has ruled in favour of the deceased's siblings.

In July 2012, the late Hefti's daughter Elizabeth Hefti Reinhard and a grandson, Daniel Bernhand Reinhard moved to court to challenge the Kenyan's claim to the property.

And now the Kenyan faces an eviction threat after the court on August 20, this year issued an order to Watamu OCS to provide security during the eviction exercise today.

On Sunday Reinhard's wife, Joyce, said they have served the police with the orders and that they were waiting for further advice from the law enforcers.  

"Yes we have served all the parties. We have suffered and lost allot in this suit. We hope we will settle the matter once and for all," said Joyce in an interview in Malindi.

In his ruling on July 19, this year, Justice Olola declared that Nthenye had no right or interest in the suit properties thus they should vacate within 30 days or be evicted after the said period.

"An order of eviction is hereby issued against the said defendants which order shall take effect upon expiry of 30 days from the date hereof unless otherwise the defendants hands over vacant possession to the plaintiffs," declared Justice Olola.

He also issued a permanent injunction to restrain the defendants "their servants or agents or any person acting under them entering, trespassing, alienating or interfering" with the properties.

Justice Olola ordered that the plaintiffs be paid sh20 million in compensation for the period they were kept out of their property.

According to the court documents, Ms Nthenye's mother Teresiah Mumangi worked as a manager of the hotel and an interpreter for the late Hefti.

But it is after the death of her mother in 2008, that Nthenye started to claim the ownership of the property under the premise that she was Hefti's stepdaughter.

Nthenye alleged that Hefti married Mumangi according to the Kamba Customary law thus she and her brother James Musau stepdaughter and stepson to the Swiss national.

"The defendant's claims are premised on the ground the she and her brother are step daughter and step-son respectively of the late Daniel Bernard Hefti," according to court documents.

According to court documents, the late Ms Mumangi took advantage of the Hefti old age to start roamers or claims that she co-owned the hotel.

But it is after her death that her daughter Nthenye started to lay claim on the properties and even went ahead to lease the hotel to Giovanni Ozzi, who was cited as the second defendants in the suit.

"Following Teresia's death the defendants attempted to bury her on the suit property. This prompted the plaintiff to file Malindi SRMCC number 107 of 2008 wherein an order restraining her burial on the land was issued," state the court documents.  

Mr. Moses Rop, who was given the power of attorney to run the premises told the court that the property plot number 588, 589 and 654 were still registered in the name of Elizabeth and Daniel.

We are undertaking a survey to help us improve our content for you. This will only take 1 minute of your time, please give us your feedback by clicking HERE. All responses will be confidential.

Malindi Environment and Land CourtKilifi CountyMawimbi LodgeWatamu Village