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Blow as top politicians lose prime Kwale property

By Willis Oketch | June 4th 2019

The High Court has ordered squatters out of a piece of land owned by Leisure Lodge in Diani.

Justices Erick Ogola, Mugure Thande and Dorcas Chepkwony also ruled that the title deeds issued by the Government to the squatters were illegal.

Also nullified was a declaration of the piece of land as a settlement scheme.

The dispute dates back to the early 1990s when Leisure Lodge sued to challenge the illegal occupation of its golf course by squatters and local politicians.

The squatters claimed the land belonged to their ancestors and that the State officially gave them the land in 1986.

But the hotel convinced the High Court that the disputed ten plots that form the golf course were legally allocated to it by the State in 1986 and that there was no proof that it had been made a settlement scheme.

Nullifying the tile deeds, the judges ruled that allowing them to stand would amount to double allocation.

The judges said the only way the hotel could lose its 1986 title deed was if the State acquired it compulsorily for public. This, they noted, never happened.

 The three judges declared that the creation of Diani complex settlement scheme which was used to settle some 700 squatters was a nullity.

Court orders

The judges found that State officers in the case displayed blatant abuse of the office and impunity with regards to court orders on the disputed property.

“The history of this case is replete with constant abuse of the office by State officers who refused to obey court orders,” said the judges.

The judges agreed with Leisure Lodge Beach hotel official who testified that the hotel bought some land to settle the squatters.

“We have carefully looked at the record of the court and found that the hotel management had purchased Gumbato land to settle squatters” said the judges.

The judges noted that successive holders of the District Commissioner’s office and a local politician had laid claims on the hotel’s land.

They said despite protests by the hotel’s owners, State officers and local politicians went ahead to sub-divide the land and settled squatters.

Among those who testified included the Attorney General Kihara Kariuki who defended the Government’s decision to allocate the land to the squatters and State officers.

The judges concurred with Leisure Lodge Beach Hotel lawyer, Ochieng Oduol that once the land had been registered and the property appropriated, the same ca not be available for alienation and can only be compulsorily acquired for public use.

The judges said the revocation of the hotel’s title deed and allocation of the land to squatters was illegal.

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