New twist in dispute over 148,000-acre land

Maji Ya Chumvi residents in Kwale County leaving a Mombasa court county on January 27, 2020. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]
Battle over ownership of 148,263 acres of land in Kwale County took a new twist yesterday after the High Court permitted more residents to apply to be enjoined in the suit.

Efforts by petitioners’ lawyer, Kinyua Kamudi, to have the latest application dismissed to allow the case to proceed was rejected by Justice Charles Yano.

Mr Kamudi had claimed that the residents who applied to be enjoined as interested parties were either not residents of the disputed parcel of land or had died.

But Asige Keverenge, the lawyer for the applicants, said those who want to be enjoined were residents living on the disputed land.

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Mr Keverenge said under Rule 7 of the Mutunga rules, his clients should be enjoined in the case. The said rules were prepared during the tenure of former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga.

Adjudication section

He said all his clients were residents of the adjudication section of Maji ya Chumvi in Kinango, Kwale County.

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“All are residents of Maji Ya Chumvi adjudication section,” said Mr Keverenge, dismissing Kamudi’s push for the court to listen to the applicants during the hearing.

Keverenge said the residents gave him instructions on January 23, this year, and that he had filed the list of the clients who hired him.

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“Under the Mutunga rules, a party can be given leave to join the petition. The intended interested parties wish to apply to be enjoined under Rule 7 of Mutunga rules,” he said.

Yesterday, Justice Yano directed Keverenge to file a formal application for rejoinder and certification by the court. The case to stop a fresh adjudication of the land, which was scheduled to be heard yesterday, was deferred. 

The residents of Maji ya Chumvi had filed a case against Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney, seeking to contest planned fresh adjudication of the land before title deeds are issued.

Ms Karoney, through a public notice published in the local dailies on November 11, 2019, said fresh verification was to make sure every land owner gets their a title deed for their parcel of land.

On October 14, last year, the CS, through another notice in the papers, also asked the residents to mark the boundaries of their land within 60 days.

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According to the court papers, the CS decided to conduct fresh verification after a section of the residents rejected 430 out of 500 title deeds that the State had planned to issue.

They said the exercise to subdivide the land through adjudication was flawed and was not open and transparent despite taxpayers’ money being spent. [Benard Sanga]

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Kwale CountyMaji Ya ChumviLand dispute