Kin allowed to bury man on disputed land

Police and Kenya Forest Service officers at the grave of Josphat Mwaisaka, who was supposed to be buried on Saturday. [Renson Mnyamwezi, Standard]
The family of a former Cabinet secretary has been allowed to bury his brother on forest land.

Kenya Forest Service (KFS) officers had on Saturday blocked the burial of Jasphat Mwaisaka, the brother of Philemon Mwaisaka, on a plot bordering Iyale forest, claiming it was Government land. 

The acting regional KFS commander, Harrison Afwata, who had led police to stop the burial, later said instructions had been received from Environment and Natural Resources Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko to allow Mwaisaka’s family to bury their kin.

“I received a call from the CS advising me to withdraw the security personnel in the disputed area. He told me the ownership of the land would be established later,” the KFS boss told The Standard.

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Sources said Governor Samboja had intervened. Mr Mwaisaka is also the county chief of staff and the governor’s private secretary.

When mourners arrived for the burial on Saturday, they found the grave site cordoned off by police and KFS officers. 

Some of the mourners left when it became apparent that the ceremony would not go on.

KFS officials said the grave site was inside the protected Iyale forest.

Mr Mwaisaka protested that there was no court order stopping the burial.

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“The land belongs to the family,” he said.  

Speaking on Sunday during the burial, the governor said if there was any dispute, it would be addressed later.

“For now let the family be allowed to bury its kin,” said Mr Samboja.

But the KFS officer maintained that the land belonged to the State.

“The family knows the plot in dispute is gazetted land. It is illegal for the family to carry out any activities there,” said Mr Afwata had said.

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The official said the site was part of the 22.3 hectare Iyalo forest that was gazetted in 1991.

“Three families have lived in the forest for years,” said Afwata.

Former Wundanyi MP Mwandawiro Mghanga accused some Interior ministry officials of disrupting the burial, claiming some Government officials wanted to displace villagers in order to grab their land.

KFSJasphat MwaisakaPhilemon MwaisakaKeriako Tobiko