Jean Marie Seroney family asks for help to reclaim Sh3bn land

Jean Marie Seroney with a black briefcase at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Jan 1972. [File, Standard]

The family of the late former National Assembly Deputy Speaker, Jean Marie Seroney, has petitioned the Senate for compensation regarding his illegal detention and assistance in retrieving parcels of land worth Sh3.2 billion.

Zipporah Seroney, the widow of the late former Tinderet MP, appeared before the Senate Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Hillary Sigei, the Bomet Senator.

Mrs Seroney urged the Senate to investigate the circumstances surrounding Seroney's detention without trial in October 1975, which lasted for three years. She requested that appropriate recommendations be made for the compensation of his family.

"We are requesting the Senate to investigate the circumstances that led to non-adherence to the various court orders issued to the family concerning disputes on property belonging to my late husband and consider recognising him as a national hero through the requisite mechanisms," she said.

The widow told the committee that Seroney served as a member of the Legislative Council for Nandi constituency from 1961 to 1963, and later for Nandi North from 1963 to 1966. He subsequently became the first MP for Tinderet constituency in Nandi County, serving from 1966 to 1975, after which he was arrested and detained.

She recounted that during his tenure as the National Assembly Deputy Speaker in 1975, her husband advocated against abuse of power, corruption, unfair distribution of resources, and land injustices. He was committed to championing social justice, rule of law, and democracy, and was a firm believer in devolution.

Mrs Seroney said that her husband's ideas of devolution, which he actively pursued in the 1960s and 1970s, are now enshrined in the Constitution.

"Jean Marie Seroney was arrested within the precincts of Parliament in October 1975 and was detained for three years and two months in harsh prison conditions without trial at Manyani GK Prison and later at Kamiti Prison. He was released on December 11, 1978 and stayed at home," she said.

Mrs Seroney said that her husband had been appointed as the chairperson of the Industrial Development Bank in 1981, a position he held until his death in December 1982. She expressed regret that their family's troubles only intensified after his passing, and that his farming business suffered greatly while he was in detention.

The widow told the committee that she single-handedly cared for their seven children despite losing four parcels of land, amounting to 1,607 acres and valued at Sh3.2 billion in today's market, to land grabbers.

Mrs Seroney said that her husband was unable to service loans he had taken from Standard Chartered Bank and National Bank of Kenya to acquire his land due to his detention, leaving the family in financial trouble after his death.

"Following the death of Jean Marie Seroney, almost all of his land and property was sold and others grabbed leaving his family desperate. We have made the best efforts to have these matters addressed by the relevant authorities; all of which have failed to give a satisfactory response," she said.

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