School closed as land dispute continues

Sunday October 8 2017

Mukothima Girls Secondary

Mukothima Girls Secondary School students run out of school with their belongings after villagers stormed the institution and burnt property over land dispute, on October 6, 2017. The school has now been closed. PHOTO | ALEX NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By ALEX NJERU
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Mukothima Girls Secondary School in Tharaka-Nithi County has been closed indefinitely following a land row with villagers.

This follows a Friday raid by suspected villagers who burnt down four bathrooms, three toilets and destroyed a 5,000 litre water tank.

The assailants also burnt three pigs and injured seven, according to Mukothima Catholic Parish Father Eliud Mwenda.

ATTACK
A man was also shot with an arrow during the skirmish that forced students to seek refuge at the chief’s camp.

"We have closed the school until further notice for fear of more attacks by the villagers," Fr Mwenda said, adding that the attackers threatened to burn dormitories.

Tharaka-North OCPD Joseph Kavoo said statements have been recorded and the matter is under investigation.

"We don’t want to speculate on who attacked who or destroyed what until we are done with investigations," Mr Kavoo said.

The OCPD said security had been beefed up at the school.

OWNERSHIP

Mukothima Catholic Parish, which owns the school, went to court in 1992 seeking the eviction of about 50 households from the land (about 180 acres).

A villager, Ms Jane Mukami, said the church is plotting to grab their land.

"Our fathers have lived on this land for many years and are the ones who gave a small portion to the church, which is now turning against us," she said.

The locals have vowed to stay put.