Tension along Kenyan Coast as White landowners attacked

The pick-up truck belonging to a White land owner that was petrol bombed by unknown people as he was entering into his residence. (Photo: Joseph Masha)

Kilifi, Kenya: Squatters petrol-bombed a Kenyan of British descent in Kilifi as tension rose in parts of Coast pitting squatters against landowners.

And security personnel descended on a German living at Shimoni in Kwale and beat him up for opposing survey work on a disputed property.

David Taylor is admitted to a Mombasa hospital with extensive burns following firebombing of his car on Saturday while the German landowner Edmond Durr was arrested after being roughed up on Saturday although he was later freed.

On Saturday, rioting squatters tried to set ablaze a hotel building in Bofu, Kilifi, after they lobbed a petrol bomb into Taylor's car as he was returning home.

Taylor's family has lived in Kilifi for more than a century while Durr has married a Kenyan and also bought land, which police claim belongs to the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA).

Taylor appears to have been a victim of a racially-motivated attack in a neighbourhood where many White families live. One of his neighbours is locked in a dispute with local squatters over a 230-acre land at Bofu. The squatters were evicted from the land and their houses destroyed on Friday.

At Kanamai in Kilifi, armed police thwarted an attempt by local farmers to invade and occupy a disputed piece of land.

And in the Shimoni case, police claim Durr was trying to obstruct a legitimate survey on KPA's land. But he said he was attacked and beaten as he tried to confront and take pictures of dozens of people accompanied by police on his property.

Kilifi OCPD Alexander Makau said Taylor was struck with a petrol bomb as he was driving into his compound and his car caught fire.

Taylor's wife Ann and several children were at home during the attack and rushed him to hospital where he was admitted in critical condition. Reports indicated he was in Intensive Care Unit with plans to airlift him to Nairobi.

According to Makau, the bombing was connected to Friday's eviction from the disputed farm when police destroyed 100 illegal structures.

Taylor's farm borders the disputed farm and it appears his attack was due to blanket anger by locals directed at all White landowners.

After the attack, unknown people also fire-bombed a hotel building under construction but no one was hurt.

Yesterday, Kilifi county police spokesman Elisha Ngetich said some local residents had illegally encroached on private land and put up residential structures forcing police to evict them.

During the eviction, police arrested the squatters' chairman Mataza Kilumo for allegedly inciting the squatters to invade the private land but freed him later.

Last year, the National Land Commission (NLC) has asked the squatters to vacate the disputed property as it seeks a lasting solution, including establishing the legal owner.

NLC has since said the land lawfully belongs to private individuals but local residents accuses the commission of refusing to listen to their grievances and writing a one-sided report.

The invasion began three weeks ago with about 1,400 taking up portions of the property.

Last month, about 4,500 squatters were evicted from land that belonged to the defunct Kilifi Cashewnut Factory which they demand as an ancestral entitlement although it was sold to a private owner about a decade ago.

In the Shimoni violence, the 60-year-old German was injured as he attempted to protect his property.

Durr told The Standard yesterday that he had been informed on Saturday morning that some KPA officials had invaded his parcel of land in Shimoni accompanied by a group of surveyors.

It is reported that the police officers allegedly assaulted Durr and arrested him for allegedly creating disturbance.

Msambweni OCPD James Omija dismissed claims that police assaulted the German national and instead accused Durr of interfering with a survey exercise that had been planned for months and everybody involved was aware.

"The land belongs to Kenya Ports Authority (KPA). Surveyors had been accompanied by police officers to conduct the exercise. It started on Friday and on Saturday, t. The suspect came with a group of men armed with slashers started to cause disturbance that is why they were all arrested and nobody was assaulted by police officers as claimed by Durr," said Omija.

But Durr who owns about three acres of land in that contested plot said some KPA official had shown some interest in buying the land a few years back but never went back to him neither did they make negotiations on the same.