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Family caught up in land dispute to bury their father as mortuary bill hits Sh580,000

By Abigael Chepkemoi | March 22nd 2021

The body of 85-year-old Timona Mlana Amukumbi has been lying in the morgue since July last year over a land dispute between his kin and those who sold him the land 46 years ago, where he is supposed to be buried. 

Amukumbi acquired the three-acre parcel from the late James Kangaiya in 1975 at Sh6,000. However, he only managed to pay Sh3,300 and was to settle the balance of Sh2,700 later. The sons of the late Kangaiya claimed their father had left a will before he died to the effect that Amukumbi settles the balance with his sons. This stalled the funeral programme.

Alfred Musavi, Amukumbi’s son says they received a call from the Mukumu Hospital morgue attendant asking him and his kin not to pick the body of their late father until a land dispute case filed in court was determined.

“The attendant said one Charles Kangaiya had filed a case at the Kakamega law courts, which birthed the order,” said Musavi. “I told the mourners that there would be no burial on that day.”

During the same week, Musavi, who is the administrator of his late father’s land, was ordered to appear in court to sort out the issue that had stalled the burial.

Kakamega Chief Magistrate Bildad Ochieng on May 14 last year dismissed Kangaiya’s case on grounds he failed to prove it in court and ordered that the deceased be buried on the parcel of land in dispute.

Ochieng also ruled that Kangaiya’s demand for payment of the balance of purchase price of the parcel of land was time barred since the transaction took place in 1975. He noted that an application is only accepted in court within 12 years from the time the land was registered. Kangaiya appealed against the decision before Kakamega High Court Judge Nelly Matheka and lost on December 9.

“It is not in dispute that the respondents’ father and his family took possession of the suit land in 1975 to date after entering into a sale agreement and making part payment. That asking for the balance of a transaction, which took place in 1975, is totally absurd and against the law of Limitations of Actions Act,” Justice Matheka ruled.

According to the deceased’s family, the mortuary bill is currently at Sh580,000 and the respondents’ lawyer had asked the court to compel Kangaiya to pay it since he is the one who took them to court. Kangaiya had deposited Sh500,000 in court while filing the case, which respondents asked the court to be forfeited for paying the mortury bill.

However, Kangaiya moved to the court demanding for the refund of the said cash after losing the appeal and the case was due for mention on February 7, but the magistrate who was handling it was involved in an accident. Initially, the family of Amukumbi had tried to solve the matter before the local administrators but they were asked to go to court.

Musavi says he has been staying on the disputed land for 41 years without ever hearing that it was never fully paid for. His mother Ester Muhatia, 75, on the other hand says her husband had settled the entire amount for purchase of the land.

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