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Land buying company officials brutally killed in Nakuru

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NAKURU, KENYA: Two members of a land-buying company were murdered on Wednesday night in what is suspected to be a dispute over issuance of title deeds.

David Gitau, 46, the Nakuru Workers' Cooperative Society secretary and Beth Wachie, were shot multiple times by unknown people at Pipeline area in Nakuru town.

The killing of the two brings to eight the total number of officials and members whose deaths have been linked to the 64-acre land row which was acquired in 1990s by the group that comprises 444 members at a cost of Sh2.4 million.

According to relatives, the two were allegedly heading home to Workers' Estate from Pipeline center when the gun-wielding gangsters accosted and sprayed them with bullets.

Jane Gitau, David's wife said David met Wachie along the road and while parting ways, they were shot approximately 100 meters from her home.

Mr Gitau died on spot while Wachie passed on while undergoing treatment at Mediheal Hospital, where she was rushed by neighbours.

Mrs Gitau said she was busy with house chores when she heard screams, she rushed at the scene and found her husband's body oozing blood. 

"I heard my husband scream for help, I rushed out to check what was going on but found him lying dead. He was with his friend whom he met on the way while coming back home," said Mrs Gitau amid sobs.

The mother of seven linked the killing to a land dispute facing Nakuru Workers' Cooperative Society saying in the past, all officials and member who push for issuance of title deeds have been executed in a gang-style manner.

She said last Thursday, her husband complained of threats from unknown people who directed him to drop pursuing the issue of title deeds.

"My husband has been living in fear from the time he took leadership of the land society in last year June. I believe a land cartel planned for his death because on Thursday he informed me that he had been directed by unknown people to stop pursuing title deeds for the land," said Mrs Gitau.

"My sister was escorting David, but at about 100 meters away, we heard cries of help. She died a brutal death," said Edward Kamau, brother to Wachie.

The families and owners of the disputed parcel have appealed to Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery to order an investigation into the killings.

"I want justice for my husband. I want the killers of my husband to be brought to book," said Mrs Gitau said .

Earlier, David told The Standard that he had received numerous threats from unknown people over the land dispute.

However, he said he was not able to report because no action had been taken by authority to bring to book criminals who killed officials and members in the past years, and feared he could be killed under unclear circumstances.

"I now fear for my life because some of our members have died under mysterious circumstances. The society is divided and any member who comes up to strongly push for title deeds is killed or made to disappear," said Gitau during an interview with the Standard in November last year.

Nakuru Police Commandant Hassan Barua confirmed the death and said investigations are underway to bring to book criminals.

"The two were accosted by armed criminals who shot them dead. Investigations have commenced to arrest the suspects," said Barua.

Last year Wellington Odouri, the society's treasurer and a member identified as Geoffrey Njogu, were shot multiple times by unknown people riding on motorcycles on November 17, last year at Elementaita road.

Other members of the land-buying company whose killings remain a mystery up to date are Collins Ochieng, who was the secretary of the group and Tom Theuri Gathega who were killed in 2015.

Two other officials disappeared mysteriously early last year and are yet to be traced.

Peris Waithera, a member of the society, confirmed they were pushing for titles for the land they purchased in 1990. Waithera said after purchasing the parcel, each member was allocated a parcel measuring 50 by 100.

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