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Angry mourners dump coffin at chief's home in Embu

By Joseph Muchiri | March 13th 2017 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Angry mourners in Gitare sub-location dumped a coffin and three crosses in the compound of the area assistant chief after a court stopped the burial of a woman.

Mr Zephania Muturi, the husband of assistant chief Lydia Muturi, obtained a temporary injunction stopping Alice Gicuku from burying her mother, Milliam Ruguru, on a disputed piece of land.

Senior Principal Magistrate L.K. Mwenda barred Ms Gicuku and her family from interring the remains on the land pending the hearing and determination of the application.

The family said it received the order dated February 28, 2017 on the eve of the burial.

Ms Ruguru died on February 22 aged about 90 years and her family recognised her only daughter, Ms Gicuku, as the inheritor of her land, which is in dispute.

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"By the time we received the injunction, we had already paid mortuary fees, bought a coffin and three crosses, printed programmes, made food, hired a hearse, organised transport, and arranged with the church for the burial the following day. We were taken aback by the order since it was too late and there was nothing we could do," said Ms Ruguru's nephew, Joseph Njeru.

One cross was for Ruguru's grave while the other two were to be erected on the graves of her son Augustine Njeru, who died in 2004, and her grandson, Edwin Gitonga, who died in 1987.

The assistant chief insisted that her husband had legally bought the land.

Muturi and Ruguru both claimed ownership of the land and have a case pending at the Embu High Court.

In an affidavit, Muturi states that he is the duly registered owner of the land and has a title deed.

According to court documents, Ruguru said that around 1963, she purchased the land from Koru Gatuorovo and settled on it in 1964, where she has lived uninterrupted.

On carrying out a search at the Lands office, she found that Koru had registered the land in the name of his son, Muriithi Koru, on July 14, 1978.

Koru transferred the land to Muturi, who obtained the title on August 5, 2014, and consequently threatened to evict Ruguru.

Muturi, in a replying affidavit, said he bought the land from Koru and extensively developed it and only in recent years did he start seeing Ruguru.

On June 9, 2016 Justice B.N. Olao ordered that pending the hearing and determination of the case, Koru or his agent should not interfere with Ruguru's occupation of the land.

At the weekend, Gicuku and Njeru said the family's woes started in 2013 when Ruguru lost her memory. They said when they realised that Ruguru had no title deed to the land, they sought the help of the assistant chief.

land dispute mourners Embu
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