Firm to pay woman Sh60 million or vacate disputed property

Farida Zawadi Ali Katana says her family has occupied the suit property for the last 20 years. [iStockphoto]

The Environment and Lands Court in Mombasa has ordered a company to pay a woman Sh60 million or vacate disputed land in 90 days.

Justice Lucas Naikuni issued the orders in a suit filed by Farida Zawadi Ali Katana against Nova Holdings Limited.

The court further ordered the Mombasa County Registrar of Land Titles to ensure the issuance of a Provisional Certificate of Titles and the rectification of the Grant to the suit land by having an entry of the name Farida Zawadi Katana in it within 90 days.

The Sh60 million is the cost incurred by Zawadi in the occupation, use, and construction of a four-storey structure. The court declared that the amount is negotiable.

“In the alternative, and on a priority basis, Defendant (Nova Holdings Limited) should consider refunding Plaintiff for all the expenses she has incurred in the occupation, use, and construction of the four-storey structure estimated at a sum of Sh60 million (negotiable) in exchange of her providing the defendant with vacant possession of the suit property within the next 90 days from this day. In default execution of this Court’s orders to ensue,” ordered the court.

Zawadi had sued the company in 2021 claiming ownership of a parcel of land through adverse possession.

She argued that she occupied the suit land where she had her residential home with a permanent-storey building which had tenants. Zawadi told the court she started construction of the property in 2003.

She said her family has occupied the suit property for the last 20 years.

The company denied her claims and filed a counter-claim.

Nova Holdings Limited said Zawadi started construction works in 2013. It pleaded with the court to dismiss the suit and order Zawadi to vacate the land.

The company said Zawadi never occupied nor took possession of the suit land from 2003 as alleged, as she had been abroad and further there was no construction whatsoever on the land by 2013.

“Undoubtedly, the suit property was registered at the Lands Registry, Mombasa in the name of Nova Holdings Limited,” noted the court.

Justice Naikuni said he was surprised and curious as to the reason why the company despite all along being aware of the construction taking place, never visited the land from 2013 nor lodged any complaint against such an illegal and irregular act by a trespasser.

The court noted that the woman’s possession of the land was open, without secrecy, and with the sole intention of acquiring ownership.

“However, in all fairness, as it appears the defendant has now all over a sudden developed enormous interest in the suit property, perhaps they should be accorded a second bite of the cherry by negotiating to compensate the plaintiff for the expenses incurred in exchange for the suit land. It is part of dispensing justice, equity, and conscience,” ruled the court.

The judge said the court discerned that the woman has on a balance of probability established that she meets the threshold for the grant of orders for the claim of title under the doctrine of land adverse possession.