Angry villagers block survey of disputed 7,100-acre land in Kilifi

About 35,000 families are living in fear of eviction after a court ruled against the residents.

Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika and County AP Commandant Elisha Ng'etich on December 12, 2017. Mr Mutindika says the surveyors wanted to establish which public utilities are found in the land. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 
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Furious residents of Shangia village in Kaloleni, Kilifi County, on Monday stopped the survey of a controversial 7,100 acres of land.

The surveyors from Nairobi, accompanied by those from Kilifi, had gone to map public utilities on the land.

But even before the exercise could begin at Shangia Primary School, residents noticed the officials and demanded an explanation on the exercise.

Their explanation did not please the residents, who immediately protested at their presence, lamenting they were not notified of the survey. The residents also said there was an ongoing court case on the land.

As more residents showed up at the scene and tension rose, the surveyors, who were in the company of Kilifi County Commissioner Magu Mutindika, called off the exercise and left.

On Tuesday, Mr Mutindika said the surveyors wanted to establish which public utilities are found in the land. “Residents did not want anything to do with them so we had to leave,” said the county commissioner.

Shangia village lies in part of the 7,100 acres where about 35,000 families are living in fear of eviction after a court in Malindi in July ruled in a favour of Mumba Chome Ngala against the residents.

Residents, led by Mr Gibson Chimera, said they had appealed against the High Court decision and that nothing should take place before their case is heard.

Mr Chimera is the chairman of 35 families. “The surveyors cannot come without notice. They should wait for the case outcome because their presence here will only make things worse,” he said.

On July 19 this year, Justice Oscar Angote ruled that the disputed land which is a Trust land, has always been owned by the clan of Mumba Chome and it was held by the county government on behalf of that family.

“A declaration is hereby issued that parcel of land known as Kilifi/Madzimbani/Mitangoni/B/ 1 measuring 2,861 Hectares is owned by the clan of Mumba Chome Ngala, represented by his son- Tsangwa Chome Ngala.

The ruling left Mwabeja, Mwamundu and Mwakai of Mitangoni in Mariakiani, villages in Kilifi County in fear of imminent eviction.

In his judgement, the judge further directed the National Land Commission (NLC) to either acquire the land from Chome with his consent or other places to resettle the 35,000 people.

After the ruling, the 35,000 people asked Justice James Olola at the Environment and Land court in Malindi to grant a stay order for the eviction until the hearing and determination of the case.

Through lawyer Jackson Muchiri they argued that they had filed a notice of appeal demanding the judgment to be put on stay until the hearing and determination of the case.

Justice Olola declined to grant the order saying the status quo remains until hearing on August 21 when the application for stay will be heard.

Mr Nzembe Lewa, one of the victims said he has been living peacefully with the Durumas, Giriamas and the Kamba community in the piece of land since 1952.

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