One killed in battle between Mukuru slum owners, locals

Police engage residents of Mukuru Kwa Njenga slums, Nairobi in running battles on Monday, December 27, 2021, when they protested against grabbing of contested land in the area. [Collins Kweyu, Standard]

At least one person died and two others injured in Mukuru Kwa Njenga yesterday as police battled residents who were protesting alleged grabbing of some land in the area.

The two who were sustained injuries were referred to Kenyatta National Hospital and Mama Lucy hospital in a critical condition. Outside the hospital where the victim who succumbed had been rushed, Loice Kemunto who claimed to be an in-law of the deceased was joined by other residents in mourning. She identified the man who died as Samuel Okoth Otieno.

“We received two patients here but one of them who suffered a bullet wound that tore through his lungs before exiting the body succumbed to his injuries as we tried resuscitating him,” said Mary Mambo of Cana Health Centre within the slum.

Earlier on and for the better part of the day residents were engaged in running battles with the police as they barricaded roads leading to the area.

At one time the residents overpowered police and pushed them to Mukuru Kwa Njenga police post.

The battle outside the police post took about an hour with fears that the residents could overrun the post.

Senior police officers who were leading the operation had to change tack and call for more reinforcement.

Addressing the press the executive director of Haki Jamii and lawyer for the slum victims Dr Nicholas Orago wondered how the eviction was being done and yet the matter was in court awaiting hearing.

“We got a court injunction to stop the eviction of residents from this area until the matter is heard on January 24, 2022 and determined,” said Orago.

Fresh details have emerged over the battle of 26-acre piece of and at Mukuru kwa Njenga slum with revelations that old tenants have declined to give way to new owners.

Since October when the demolitions kicked off, details have remained scanty on land ownership as families were thrown to the cold during the raining season. The battle for the land has been renewed over the past two days, as police intervened to quell chaos when new land owners’ attempt to erect beacons faced resistance from the former tenants.

It emerged that the land owned by Orbit Chemicals was sub-divided and sold to buyers, who now own the land and have title deeds.

Sachen Chandaria, chief executive officer of Orbit Chemicals Industries Ltd said the company owns L.R. 12425 measuring 97.5 acres in Mukuru.

“The company owns the land and not the Government as some are claiming; we have a title deed for that,” said Chandaria.

Speaking to The Standard, Chandaria said about 25 acres of the lad were surrendered to community for public utilities.

“We subdivided the land and sold several plots measuring 33 by 66 to over 200 buyers at about Sh500,000 which was being paid within a period of three years,” said Chandaria.

The previous tenants of the land however argue that an agreement reached with Orbit was to allow each of them purchase the plot they lived in.

And so on December 7, 2021, at least 207 people moved to court claiming ownership of the contested land.

In their case filed before Environment and Lands Court judge Oguttu Mboya, they claim that following a protracted court battle between them and Orbit, they negotiated with the firm to allow them buy individual plots which each was occupying.

Court record reads that some 1,379 plots were created on LR No 12425. They claim that they have since purchased the plots and have their certificates of title.

Chandaria yesterday said that the owners of the illegal shanties had been given notices to leave the land after it was sold to new owners.

“...but they refused to leave. Plot owners who are coming to put beacons have a right to do so,” said Chandaria.

In court papers, the group led by Dominic Njuguna Ndung’u, said the plan was to convert Mukuru kwa Njenga into modern buildings.

They claim they mutually agreed with the Nairobi County to have structures that had been built along Catherine Ndereba Road brought down to improve the road by expanding its size and improve access.

However, they claim, politicians brought other slum dwellers into their properties claiming that it was a government land. “The otherwise situation on the ground is becoming very tense as some of the residents of Mukuru Kwa Njenga are threatening to forcefully protect their property and defend themselves, a situation that could easily morph into a complete breakdown of law and order,” their lawyer Aggrey Odiwuor argued.