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Widow loses land for failing to pay Sh400, 000 debt

By Nderitu Gichure | May 2nd 2018
Jane Gachigi Rwengo at her farm in Giakaibei Village in Mathira, Nyeri County on April 25, 2018. [Kibata Kihu/Standard]

A decision by a farmer to borrow money from her neighbour in Mathira has come back to haunt her years later.

Jane Rwengo, 52, from Giakaibei village is staring at imminent eviction from land that she and her two children have called home for the better part of their lives.

Already, the three-quarter-acre parcel has been auctioned following the orders of a magistrate's court in Karatina.

Charles Kamwenji, a lawyer in Karatina, who lent her the Sh400,000, was the highest bidder during the auction and is set to assume ownership of the land.

Rwengo's problems began on June 6, 2015, when she approached the lawyer for a loan of Sh400,000 and surrendered her title deed to him as security. She now claims that she borrowed the money on behalf of a merry-go-round (chama) group is a member of to offset another loan that they owed.

Refund money

The arrangement, according to an agreement in documents filed in court, was that Rwengo would refund the money after two months, which fell on August 30, 2015.

“The defendant defaulted. I however agreed to accommodate her request for more time,” the lawyer noted in his affidavits filed on January 21, 2016.

He said Rwengo had since refused, failed or neglected to repay the money despite his indulgence and subsequent demands.

Mr Kamwenji asked the court to compel Rwengo to pay the amount owed and also the cost of the suit.

“Despite the demand and notice of intention to sue, the defendant has failed or refused to make good her claims," the lawyer further stated.

Rwengo never appeared in court to defend her land despite court documents indicating she was served several times by a court process server by the name James Mwangi.

“On April 20, 2016, I proceeded to Giakaibei and found Rwengo at her residence. I served her with the said notice, attached with a copy of the decree,” Mr Mwangi explained.

He said the defendant accepted the document but declined to sign his copy.

Rwengo, however told The Standard she could not remember being summoned to appear in court.

The lawyer again went to court on June 6, 2016, seeking prohibitory orders against the transfer, lease or mortgage of the land (Magutu/Gatei 1346).

He further applied to be allowed to bid for the land at the auction and if declared the highest bidder, the decreed sum be offset against the purchase price. The orders were also granted.

Issued orders

It is against this background that the court issued the orders on September 28, 2016, setting the stage for Superview Auctioneers to move in.

“We sold the land to the highest bidder, Charles Kamwenji, at Sh810, 000,” a report filed in the principal magistrate's court by the auctioneers on May 18, 2017, read.

The report said after the auctioneers paid Sh606, 632 (the decree amount and interest) and deducted their costs, expenses and charges of Sh160, 000, there was a surplus of Sh42, 788, which was to be deposited in court.

It said all lawful procedures were followed.

Following the auctioning of her land, Rwengo is now distraught and does not know what the future holds for her.

The woman, who lost her husband 10 years ago, has been the breadwinner for her two children and two grandchildren.

"I don't know what will happen when we get evicted from our only source of livelihood," Rwengo said.

"The crosses on three graves belonging to my close relatives have already been removed and thrown into pit latrines. I am traumatised by what is happening to us," she added.


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