Growing rift over land in Kajiado

Adhengo points at the injury he sustained when he was attacked by his neighbours. [Photo: Andrew Kilonzi/Standard]

By Kenneth Kwama

Kajiado, Kenya: When Boaz Adhengo heard that a mob comprising locals from Isinya, Kajiado County, where he had built a home, had convened a meeting to discuss the issue of land sold to “outsiders”, he knew there was trouble.

He had just reached Inkiito on his way from Isinya town where he had gone to withdraw money to pay labourers who had repaired a fence that had been pulled down by some locals who informed him that he was unwanted there because he was an “outsider”.

At Inkiito, a group of men armed with machetes flagged him down. He alighted from his car but before he could lock the door, some young Maasai men, popularly known as Morans, pounced on him.

“They were people I know,” he says. “People whom I interact with on a daily basis because some of them were my neighbours,” says Adhengo.

He was tossed to the ground and then they set on him, clubbing and hitting him with the machetes. He got loose, grabbed a shoe that had fallen off, and with the mob hot on his heels, fled in the direction of area chief and his assistant who were standing nearby.

Mr Adhengo is one of the hundreds of people who bought land in Kajiado County, but who are now being targeted by locals for eviction. They now find themselves unable to utilise their land.

While Adhengo says his title deed is valid, several other investors who bought land from areas like Kitengela, Rongai and other parts of Kajiado County have found themselves either homeless or fighting court battles to retain land that was allegedly acquired unprocedurally.

Efforts to get a comment from Kisaju Location chief David Teeka, who is said to have witnessed the assault, were futile as calls to his mobile phone went unanswered. However, a resident who was at the scene told The Standard that Adhengo is just one of the many “outsiders” being targeted for eviction.

“Most of these people feel that the plots were acquired from them at throwaway prices. There are also several cases of people who stole title deeds from their parents and later sold the land to those regarded as outsiders. The general feeling is that our ancestral land is being taken away by outsiders and we will not allow it,” said one of Adhengo’s neighbours who spoke to The Standard, but who requested not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Genuine title deeds

Kajiado and Kiambu are the nearest counties to Nairobi and businesspeople hoping to cash in on the growing appetite for land by city dwellers have been buying huge tracts of land in the two counties, which they subdivide and sell at a profit to people seeking to build residential homes.

Adhengo bought his land from a company called Truelands Holdings Ltd. The company owns a wider plot registered as KJD/K/A/1442, which it subdivided and sold to individuals and a cooperative society.

Although they all have genuine title deeds to the plots, two of Adhengo’s neighbours who spoke to The Standard said their fences were pulled down and they were informed that they would not be allowed to construct even toilets on their plots.

But the Cabinet member in charge of Information and Citizen Participation in the county Gladys Marina says the local authority does not object to investors buying land and developing it because this is good for development.

“We realised that there was a lot of fraud at the registry. There were cases of one plot sold to several people and several others of people having the same title deed for one plot. The county assembly decided to halt land transactions to enable us put our house in order,” says Marina.   

Concern over the “invasion” of Kajiado has sparked discussions and about a fortnight ago, the County Government of Kajiado placed a paid advertisement in some of the local dailies titled, “Illegal sub-division and advertisement of land for sale” where it stated that such actions were illegal.

The administration banned the execution of surveys on land situated within the county.

“Consequently, the County Government hereby notifies the public that the ban on all land transactions is still in force and those who purchase such plots risk losing their money.”

Last week, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations put up an advertisement with a long list of parcels of land situated in the county and asked people with title documents, interest or material information about the said plots to report to a special investigations team.

The involvement of CID is an acknowledgement that the problem has spiralled beyond the capability of the county government.