Birth of scandal that will remake home of champions

Aerial view of Eldoret town. A mega scandal is brewing that could bankrupt the home of champions.  [Kevin Tunoi, Standard]

When two friends came together to mobilise resources to buy land 59 years ago, they did not know that they were planting the seeds of a mega scandal that could bankrupt the home of champions.

Details and the motives of the two friends, Kiptot arap Sitienei and Joseph arap Korir, are hazy but the echoes of their actions are about to change the face of Eldoret, the home of champions and create the newest club of billionaires.

It all started in 1964 when the two men approached Gordon Edward Goby and Lionel Roy Nesfield Strange, to purchase 1,050 acres of land. Since they did not have the Sh96,000 required to seal the deal, they jointly took a loan from Kenya Land and Agricultural Bank and Agricultural Finance Company.

The first signs of trouble came in 1968 when a group of people who complained of being shortchanged stormed the farm on April 23, 1968, and evicted the families now living in the house formerly occupied by Goby. Apparently, the two pioneers had reportedly registered the vast land in their name, instead of Langas Farm Limited which had 50 members who contributed money for the purchase.

The Attorney General in 2018 told the High Court that the Ministry of Lands was never involved in the subdivision of the land. [iStockphoto]

When the loan was ultimately repaid in 2001, the families of Sietinei and Korir told the court that they were horrified to learn that the land had been alienated by the government and the defunct Municipal Council of Eldoret.

The land was subdivided into thousands of plots, third-party title deed issued leading to further sales and the birth of Langas, an estate which is currently home to more than 40,000 people. When they went to court the administrators of the two patriarchs, who are now dead, complained that their land had been developed into the sprawling Langas estate.

It is this disputed land that hosts Langas Primary, Langas Health Centre, Kapkenduywa Primary School and much more. Ironically, the title to this land which had been registered in the names of Sieitinei and Korir was never revoked.

During the hearing of the case before the High Court on January 12, 2018, the Attorney General said the Ministry of Lands was never involved in the subdivision of the land.

The court granted Pius Kibet Tott, the administrator of the estate of Sitienei who had sued with authority of Paul Cheruiyot Bittok and Samwel Bittok, the heirs and administrators of the estate of Korir, his prayers for compensation.

Consequently, the government is supposed to pay the claimant Sh4.5 billion and evict the people who reside on the disputed land. This development will forever change Langas.