Wavinya Ndeti’s kin in all drawn-out battle over Sh1b prime land

The old Ndeti home in Athi River, Machakos County. This is the house the five Ndeti brothers lived in while building their vast business empire. [Jeckonia Otieno, Standard]
A battle for a prime parcel of land in the Nairobi metropolis is threatening to tear apart politician Wavinya Ndeti’s family.

Two factions of the family are interpreting court orders to suit their side of the story even as potential buyers unaware of the feud risk getting caught up in the raging conflict – and losing out ultimately.

At the centre of the conflict are two court decisions upon which the two factions are clinging. One side argues that a court order is being disregarded in ongoing subdivision.

Surviving wives and children of five brothers -- Patrick Mutheke, Julius Kiilu, Peter Nzuki (Wavinya’s father), Harrison Mulili and Alifonce Nthiwua -- are warning that those who are sub-dividing the land opposite the Mlolongo weighbridge on Mombasa Road are doing so in contravention of a 2014 Court of Appeal ruling.

But the family of the youngest brother Kivuto Ndeti, which is being accused of subdividing the land, says it was granted administration rights by the High Court in 2018.

The 100-acre plot, which members of the Ndeti family value at abut Sh1 billion, has been a bone of contention for years since the late 1970s.

On January 21, 2014 an order signed by Justice William Musyoka at the High Court in Nairobi offered a grant to Cecilia Situmai Ndeti, the widow of Prof Kivuto and her son Kyende Ndeti a number of properties among them Mlolongo parcel (L.R. 7149/9) to be distributed among five members of Kivuto’s family.

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But in a twist, the Court of Appeal gave an order on July 11, 2014 barring any transaction on the same piece of land.

Vast interests

“That the defendant, his agents or servants be and are hereby restrained from selling whole or part or otherwise parting with the property L.R. 7149/9…”

In another ruling by Justice Musyoka on June 14, 2018  that was delivered by Justice Margaret Muigai on June 21, 2018, the court saw no reason to quash the grant despite the Court of Appeal ruling which has never been contested.

The Ndeti family had vast business interests spread across Ukambani and Nairobi. The family business was set up by the five brothers in the 1940s. In the 1970s, they invited their younger brother Kivuto to manage the businesses. All the founding brothers are now dead but have left behind a feud.

The families of the elder brothers say Kivuto has stretched them to the limit and they have decided to fight back and get what rightfully belongs to them before it is too late.

“Cursed is the man who breaks a family treaty. We will divide our land since it belongs to us. Those pretending to be selling it are impostors and con men,” says Christina Nyiva, the first wife of Kiilu.

Nyiva alongside other members of the families of the five elder brothers have warned buyers to keep off the parcel. Nyiva’s co-wife, Sabina Syokwia, warns that if the family of Kivuto does not stop claiming ownership of the parcel of land in Mlolongo and subdividing it, they will have no option but to pronounce a curse.

But Kivuto’s son Michael Kyende maintains that the parcel of land was given to his family legally by the courts. He says the Court of Appeal awarded just three acres to Mutheke’s first son Patrick Mutheke on which stands a house he lived in as the manager of the family business.

Nyiva and Syokwia, however, insist the entire 100 acres of land is owned by the five brothers and their seven wives. They claim they worked their fingers to the bones to build the empire, carrying stones on their backs to put up buildings in Athi River from which all the wealth was accumulated.

“We are the ones who took Kivuto to school and invited him into the business, and he turned against us claiming the land. This land belongs to five brothers and that has not changed yet,” says Nyiva.

Subdivisions

Mutheke’s son Gregory and Nthiwua’s son Boniface say they will do all it takes to stop subdivision of the communal land. Gregory says the legal battle is far from over.

“There is no way someone can claim that they own the land in Mlolongo. I am 70 and I know how the land was acquired as I would visit my uncle Kivuto,” he says.

Boniface warns buyers that they stand to lose money if they deal in the land.

Minutes of meetings dating back to the 1970s tell of a family unit that had all the tenets of kinship which are now threatened by conflicts over the prime parcel.

Kyende says that the company, PN Ndeti and Brothers Ltd was wound up in 1997 but Somba Ndeti, a son to Kiilu, insists that the company had no property because all of it was under the initial partnership which has never been wound up.

But Mutheke, through his lawyer Gitonga Murugara, states: “They actually applied to the court to nullify that order but the court refused to grant their prayers.”

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Wavinya NdetiLand SagaLand Dispute