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Teen shot as police disperse squatters in Shanzu

Sunday May 10 2015

Residents of Utange1 Settlement Scheme at a barricade during a protest on May 10, 2015. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA

Residents of Utange1 Settlement Scheme at a barricade during a protest on May 10, 2015. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

LABAN ROBERT
By LABAN ROBERT
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CHARLES LWANGA
By CHARLES LWANGA
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A 15-year-old pupil was shot and injured by police as they dispersed squatters from a controversial piece of land in Shanzu, Mombasa County.

Ronald Baya, who was on Sunday recovering at the Coast Provincial Hospital, was caught up in the chaos while on a motorcycle

The rider was trying to avoid the commotion as police shot in the air to disperse the more than 100 squatters on Saturday evening.

The Standard Seven pupil at Jolorabi Primary School was shot as he tried to escape on foot after disembarking.

“I had gone to visit my uncle in Shanzu. The motorcycle rider decided to turn back because the road was blocked. The only way out was to return to Shanzu or go towards the demonstrators. A police officer in civilian clothing shot at me while his colleagues shot in the air,” he said.

The pupil said the officer who shot him is the same one who gave them a letter to take to hospital. The letter was to confirm he had sustained a bullet injury.

OBTAINED AN ORDER

On Sunday, the squatters from the Utange1 Settlement Scheme blocked Utange Road for the second day running, arguing that they obtained an order to occupy 30 acres of the piece of land, which is part of the 72 acres formerly owned by businessman Swaleh Nguru.

The Mombasa Law Courts order dated March 24, says: “The respondent by himself, his servants, and or his agents are temporarily restrained from evicting, demolishing, harassing and or interfering with the plaintiff’s occupation of plot number 398/1/MN in Utange of Mombasa County.”

John Mwahoza, chairman of the 2,500-member squatters’ body, said police, in the company of gangs, engaged the residents in running battles, adding they have never had peace since they occupied the land.

“Since January, Swaleh Nguru’s grandson Awadhi has been using police and hired goons to intimidate us. The residents are surprised police can be used to break the law. We demand to know if the government wants us to confront the officers,” he said.

In February, Mr Mwahoza claimed Mr Awadh hired men with crude weapons in a pickup. The men had red pieces of cloth and their intention was to kill, to imply the community is part of the Mombasa Republican Council.

Mr Mwahoza, who has been arrested more than twice over the piece of land, said the squatters followed the right procedure by seeking permission from the courts.

He, however, expressed displeasure that court orders are no longer useful in protecting the interests of the people.

Mr Mwahoza demanded that Chief Justice Willy Mutunga addresses the matter before it worsens.

IDENTIFIED OFFICER

The squatters also accused Mombasa County Commissioner Nelson Marwa of allegedly failing to protect them.

“Mr Marwa was posted here to protect the interests of resident. Calling press conferences and mentioning 15 people as ‘special land grabbers’ will not help. The people are taking what belongs to them,” he said.

In their chants, the squatters identified the officer who led police to the areas only as Kinuthia, who heads a patrol unit in Kiembeni.

Nominated Senator Emma Mbura demanded for the immediate arrest of the police officer who shot at the teenager.

“It is painful that police can shoot a child because of land. What does a child have to do with land?” the senator posed.

Coast residents have remained squatters despite being the indigenous occupants, while master grabbers are hiding behind famous names, she claimed.

Nyali MP Hezron Awiti said it is unfortunate that more than 50 years after independence, some Kenyans do not own land.

“I ask you not to engage in fighting. You cannot bring peace by fighting. The government must establish who took over land from Sultans and the Whites, instead of returning it to the locals,” he said.

He promised to follow up the matter with the office of the county commissioner for an amicable solution.

Kisauni OCPD Richard Ngatia said he was not aware of the issue.