A farm hand irregularly transferred his employer’s land to himself and later sold it, a court was told.
In a decision that has seen the buyer lose Sh2.7 million, the Court of Appeal criticised the Lands ministry for its officers' lack of integrity.
“We are yet again confronted by an appeal where the integrity of our land registration system is seriously called into question. Once again, dishonesty, abuse of trust, complicity, and lack of professionalism and integrity are readily apparent in the dealings with land, leading to this appeal,” the court said.
Justices Phillip Waki, Patrick Kiage, and Kathurima M'Inoti were told how Laban Mulinya allegedly convinced lands officials to transfer the title deed to another party without producing documentation to prove he was the legitimate owner of the parcel.
In 1995, Mr Mulinya’s employer, Zephaniah Ngaira, bought a 0.2 hectares in Kakamega town at a cost of Sh15,000. He built a house on the land, but could not live there as he was working in South Africa.
He employed Mulinya to take care of the house and the land.
Seven years later, on September 23, 2002, Mulinya allegedly transferred the land to himself. He claimed that he had bought the land from his employer at Sh40,000. Mulinya died in 2008.
Chrispinus Ingoi claimed he had bought the land at Sh500,000 in 2006. However the farm hand did not produce the title deed.
Mr Ingoi placed a caution on the land, but another man, Moses Lutomia Washiali, also claimed ownership, saying he had bought the land at Sh2.2 million the same year.
Yesterday, the court dismissed Mr Lutomia’s appeal, saying he failed to conduct a proper check before buying the land.