Raiders torch family's seven houses in dispute over prime property
By Vincent Mabatuk
| August 16th 2016
Seven houses built on a disputed land at Kapkures village were torched at the weekend.
And the incident has been linked to a dispute pitting the affected family against the public, which claims the land had been set aside for public utilities.
According to 89-year-old Paulina Koda, more than 100 people raided her homestead and set the semi-permanent houses on fire.
She said the group, which arrived a few minutes past 9pm on Saturday, ordered everyone out of the houses while another group slashed maize plants.
Narrating the ordeal, the woman blamed the incident on a tussle over a 2.1-acre land she allegedly bought from a white settler in 1972.
Claiming her supporting documents were among the items destroyed during the attack, she accused a section of residents for targeting to grab the prime property.
“They stormed my bedroom and ordered me out. One of the attackers threw my grandchild through the window as my house was engulfed by raging fire,” the woman claimed.
The woman said she had the title to the prime property and asked those aggrieved to square it out through the justice system. “I have the title and they should produce documents supporting their cause. It would be wrong to kick out my family non-procedurally,” said Koda.
The woman’s eldest son, Joseph Kipangas said the case, which has lasted for 12 years in court, was ruled in their favour on July 14 this year, a claim that was strongly disputed by Oinobtich community water project chairman Daniel Yego.
Yego said the attack could be a retaliation after the community borehole office was torched by unknown people on Saturday night.
“Hundreds of people who had turned up to put out the fire went on the rampage, destroying the family’s property, something that should be condemned,’’ said the chairman.
Yego, who once served as area chief before he retired, said during the sisal land sub-division, three boreholes, including the disputed property, was set aside as public utilities and accused the complainants of acquiring it illegally.
According to the former chief, the community allegedly realised the woman had already acquired the title to the property and lodged a case before a lands tribunal.
He said the community was issued with an allotment letter in 1984 for the disputed property.
Environment and Land judge Munyao Sila declined to declare the woman as the property owner, contrary to the family’s claims.
“For avoidance of doubt, I have not determined the merits of the suit and I have not made any determination on whether or not the defendant is entitled to hold the proprietorship of the land parcel or the resultant subdivisions,” said the judge in a ruling seen by The Standard.
The locals accused the family of secretly destroying the project’s property, including water supply pipes and cutting a perimeter fence.
But Chief Rashid Abdallah of Kapkures location said the matter was under police investigation.
“The arson attack is a criminal offence and the public should be warned against such. This matter has been in court and we are yet to establish the final decision made by the courts,” said chief.
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