Mombasa residents thwart police attempts to evict woman from her home

Ms Shenaz Hussein. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Drama ensued today in Ganjoni, Mombasa when armed police officers had to flee from a scene they had come to oversee the eviction of an Asian woman from her house.

The officers encountered resistance from the locals who came to defend Ms Shenaz Hussein who is said to have been staying at the house for the last 60 years.

The agitated locals asked the Inspector General of Police, Japhet Koome, to rein in errant officers they said were being used by cartels targeting the properties of the old Asians.

Attempts by the officer to show a court order for the eviction bore no fruit as the locals remained adamant.

The order was allegedly issued by a magistrate on November 13, 2020.

Ms Shenaz told reports that she had valid documents to support her claim that the Lands and Environment Court, had ruled house belongs to her.

The Standard could not independently verify the authenticity of the order given by the Mombasa Chief Magistrates Court in 2020 but issued on September 14, 2022.

In a case filed in 2008 and amended in 2016, Justice Charles Yano said that it was clear that Ms Shenaz and her father acquired the property through adverse possession.

"From the material presented before this court, I find that the applicants have on the balance of probabilities proved that they adversely remained in possession and occupation of the suit property for more than 12 years to the exclusion of the registered owner."

The judge ruled: "The registered owners have certainly lost their rights over the property and the applicants now acquired prescriptive rights over the property by way of adverse passion."

From the court documents, Ms Shenaz is embroiled in the tussle over the ownership of the property in the prime area with her cousins called Salim Haji Essak and Bilqis Salim Suleiman.

According to the judgement, Ms Shenaz had told the court that her late father, Hussein Haji, bought the suit property and registered it in the name of his brothers who were also business partners - Suleiman Abdulrehman, Ismail Haji, and Ali Mohamed.

The three siblings were family business partners that dissolved in 1981, and properties were distributed.

The late Hussein retained the ownership of the suit property.

Although the property was in the late Hussein's name, the family continued to pay land rates to the defunct Mombasa Municipal Council.

The judge said in 1983, Suleiman, "without any colour of right", sold the house to Burton Development Limited and later re-sold it to Bilgis Salim Suleiman and Salim Haji Suleiman.

In 2008, Ms Shenaz and her sister were given the notice to vacate the house, but they stayed put, insisting that the house belonged to their late father.

Mombasa Senator Mohamed Faki said cases of eviction of the elderly by individuals with dubious court orders and support from police officers were on the rise in Mombasa and Nairobi.

The Ganjoni saga comes barely a week after an Asian family was violently ejected from their house in Westlands, Nairobi, which sparked national condemnation.

The auctioneer behind the eviction in Nairobi, Zachary Baraza of Situma Auctioneers, has since been arrested and charged in court.

Senator Faki said this was not an isolated case.

"It is clear that some people are exploiting the confusion in the police force to carry out illegal evictions. I tell the new Inspector General of Police to rein in these errant officers," said Faki.