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School, family land dispute intensifies after court orders exhumation of kin

RIFT VALLEY
By Winfrey Owino | April 8th 2021

A family from the Koroto sub-location in Baringo county is protesting a court ruling by Kabarnet Senior Resident Magistrate Paul Biwott on Wednesday.

The protest comes hours after the court ordered the exhumation of the body of their kin, Paul Kipchabas, who was buried next to a classroom in Koroto Primary School two weeks ago.

Speaking in Kabarnet town after the court made a ruling, the family members led by Jacob Cherop said that they were shocked by the court’s pronouncements because they were sure they owned the land.

“The fence is still intact and other structures but the school board and the headteacher have never engaged us until the demise of our brother who died from a terminal illness,” said Jacob Cherop.

Further, Cherop said that the ruling was unfair to them since an earlier injunction case filed in January this year by the deceased was not honoured.

“The court has been dragging the pending case by postponing it severally yet the verdict of the second case by the school has been given very fast.” David Ruto, brother to the deceased lamented.

Cherop explains how the application sought to restrain the Board of Management of both Koroto Primary and Secondary schools together with the county government of Baringo from further engaging in the 20Acres piece of land that is under dispute.

The family has insisted that the deceased only donated 10 acres of land for Koroto Primary school but now claims that the school encroached on the remaining piece of land and built a day secondary school.

“The ten acres which the family willingly surrendered for primary school to be established and the new day secondary school in the same property which has caused us to be displaced does not even have an allotment letter to justify their ownership,” Andrew Kimuge, son to the deceased revealed.

However, the court termed the presence of the grave within the school as a nuisance. 

“It is clear the parcel of land was reserved for Koroto Primary School, while parcel number eight was reserved for Koroto Secondary School,” stated the court.

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“Even though the respondent claims that their clan buries the dead at night, I doubt how genuine they are. They were aware of the pending dispute, and to avoid confrontation with the school authority they opted for a night burial; this is not right,” Court added.

The court noted that the family acted on their own and directed the family to look for alternative land to bury the deceased or he is buried at a public cemetery as suggested by the public health department.

Paul Kipchabas' grave in the compound of Koroto Primary School. [Yvonne Chepkwony, Standard]

On the other hand, the court ordered the OCS Loruk Police Station to provide security on the day public health officers will exhume and dispose of the remains of the deceased adding that the family is to cater for the cost of the application, the exhumation and re-burial. 

The family is now urging the Ministry of Education to get into the matter so that the pending issue with the school is amicably addressed.

The family is now urging the Ministry of Education to intervene in the matter so that the pending issue with the school is amicably addressed.

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