Over 500 families in Kisauni sleep out in the cold after houses demolished in land row

Squatters remove the remains of their houses at Lamkane in Mombasa North mainland. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

At least 526 families have been evicted from a disputed land at Lamukani in Kisauni.

Nguma Charo, who spoke on behalf of the squatters, claimed a private developer hired goons to kick them out of the 135 acres and destroyed their houses.

He said the squatters were evicted from the property they claim is their ancestral land under the watch of armed police officers.

The private developer is said to have claimed he owns the land. They developer is also said to have claimed he has the title deed to the land. 

Demolitions started on Friday. Several people were reportedly injured during the incident.

"They came under the cover of darkness, ejected us from our houses before bulldozers flattened them,” said Mariam Abdalla,85.

She said they fear falling sick as the region is currently experiencing rain.

"We have lost our properties. We also fear falling sick because we have been sleeping in the cold since the demolitions started," said another resident Rehema Kahindi.

Land and environment executive Edward Nyale, however, termed the evictions illegal and told the squatters to stay put.

“That police officers destroyed poor people’s houses at night leaving children and the elderly in the cold is shocking. Action must be taken against those officers,” said Nyale.

He said the matter is already with the National Land Commission (NLC) and he does not therefore understand why the goons and the officers attacked the squatters. 

NLC conducted a public hearing in August to determine ownership of the land, but is yet to issue its report.

"The police have no business determining ownership of land. Those powers are with NLC, which is yet to rule on the matter. I ask all the squatters not to move out,” said Nyale.

Our efforts to seek a comment from Kisauni OCPD Sangura Musee were futile. However, he has in the past defended the evictions saying the police were enforcing a court order.

“To the best of my knowledge, the eviction order by Justice Ojwang is still in force and no other order has been presented to us,” had said Musee.

NLC wrote to the Inspector General on August 18, 2017 and October 31, 2013, asking him to facilitate maintenance of status quo at the disputed land as the commission works to resolve the dispute.

Nguma accused the Government of auctioning their ancestral land in 1970 without their knowledge.

Ms Gladys Njeri Kagiri claimed her family bought the land during a public auction in the 1970s, subdivided it and sold it to several buyers and only retained seven acres.