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Woman, 81, battles church over 1.5-acre land

 Marion Wakanyi Kamau has taken the battle to the Court of Appeal. [iStockphoto]

In November 1992, Marion Wakanyi Kamau was approached by members of Deliverance Church in Lang'ata who asked her to give them a portion of her land to set up a tent for worship.

The agreement was for the church to temporarily use the 1.5-acre portion for worship as they developed their own land which was adjacent.

But the good gesture has turned into a long-drawn court battle after the church refused to vacate.

“I gave my land to the church to give glory to God but they have ended up putting me through a lot of pain. The church is not interested in glorifying God but they have turned out to be land grabbers and land cheats,” swore Ms Kamau.

According to the 81-year-old woman, she owned the original 7.2-acre land and had constructed a school on the portion measuring 5.7-acres.

The church, through its representatives Geoffrey Njuguna and Jonah Gitonga, then approached her to allow them to use the remaining portion.

Being a Christian, Ms Kamau allowed the church’s request on condition they would only put up a temporary tent structure and pay rent.

The landlord-tenant agreement went on well until 1996 when the church proposed an exchange of her land with another on account that the church had grown in numbers.

Ms Kamau claims she was forced to terminate the exchange programme in 2004 after realising the church did not own the land they had proposed to give her.

“The church stopped paying rent in 2008. They entered my land due to the temporary nature of their need and on the false promise they would relocate to their land. They even presented to me a forged exchange document which I declined,” said Kamau.

The church, in its response, did not deny Ms Kamau’s claims but stated that they had been on the land for over 30 years and made investments on the property worth Sh100 million, including a church building, which can accommodate 1,500 people.

They stated that they had executed an exchange deed plan to give Ms Kamau another piece of land but she declined.

The church also denied developing the land without the owner’s permission, arguing Ms Kamau was aware of the buildings.

Despite the evidence and admission by the church, Environment and Land Court judge Loice Komingoi, on November 24 last year, ruled in favour of the church on account they are already using the land and it will be unfair to evict them with the massive investment already in place.

The judge ruled that the deed of exchange, between the church and Ms Kamau, was valid and she should claim the land she was promised instead of demanding back the 1.5-acre the church is occupying.

Ms Kamau has now taken the battle to the Court of Appeal claiming the judge secretly delivered the decision without notifying her or her advocate so as to lock them out from appealing the miscarriage of justice.

Her lawyer Patrick Rugo argued the judge relied on facts not pleaded by any party to deny her the land and give the church ownership of a property they did not acquire legally.

“Her decision was contrary to the evidence on record, including admission of illegalities committed by the church. She made an error in finding that the deed of exchange was binding even after being supplied with evidence that it was a forgery,” said Rugo.

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