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How businesswoman lost Sh6.6m in Kwale land deal

Thursday October 24 2019

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Mombasa businesswoman Josephine Muhonja Mwinamo paid Sh5 million and was to give the remaining Sh3.3 million once the land title documents were transferred to her. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRIAN OCHARO
By BRIAN OCHARO
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When Mombasa businesswoman Josephine Muhonja Mwinamo bought 15.38 hectares of land in Kwale County in 2014, she had no idea she would end up fighting in court for its ownership.

Ms Mwinamo took a bank loan to buy the land for a development project.

Her down payment to the owners was about three-quarters of the buying price of Sh8.3 million, a price determined after valuation.

Ms Mwinamo paid Sh5 million and was to give the remaining Sh3.3 million once the land title documents were transferred to her.

She paid this amount to land owners Murina Mwachilungu, Henry Mwangadu, Ngundi Ndonga, Kambi Mwachilungu, Eliud Mwachindi, Mangale Samson, Mwachilungo Buruma and Henry Kengo.

All the parties agreed that after completion of the payment, she would take over full ownership of the land, described as unregistered. 

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MORE MONEY

However, after making the down payment, the woman says, the eight men asked her for another Sh1 million to facilitate the processing of the title deed and to effect the transfer to her name so she could assume full ownership of the property.

She then pumped in another Sh600,000 for erecting beacons around the plot to restrain encroachers and separate her plot from the vast Samburu ranch.

Ms Muhonja did this while waiting for the land owners to complete the transfer of the title to her name.

Little did she know that as she waited, a deal was being made behind the scenes for the sale of the same property to another party.

“They (the eight men) had many problems. They wanted money to pay their children's school fees. I chipped in and they agreed to sell me the land,” she said.

SECOND SALE

Ms Mwinamo said that when she tried to follow up on the title deed, the land owners played games with her.

She met them after making the down payment and sending the fees for processing the title deed, but they later refused to honour the agreement of transferring ownership to her so she could complete the payment.

After a push and pull, Ms Mwinamo realised the men had sold the same property to another party, this time a company.

She said the whole property was sold to New Connections Suppliers at an undisclosed price.

Her attempts to recover the money bore no fruits.

COURT CASE

Aggrieved, the woman filed a suit at the Environment and Land Court in Mombasa in 2016 to reclaim the land.

Ms Mwinamo says, however, that the case has been heard only twice since then.

“The case has taken too long to conclude. The bank loan has attracted interest of more than Sh32 million,” she said 

In a new application, she asked the court to have the National Lands Commission, the Kwale Land Registrar and Attorney-General Paul Kihara join the case as defendants.

She also wants New Connections Suppliers to join the suit as an interested party.

JUSTICE

Ms Mwinamo wants these parties included in the case for the sake of proper adjudication.

“I am likely to be adversely affected by the outcome of this suit without the proposed defendants and the interested party," she said in the application.

"The NLC, AG and the Kwale Land Registrar will help the court to unearth and/or ventilate issues under controversy."

Ms Mwinamo has sued the eight men, accusing them of violating their terms of agreement by selling the property to another party despite her payments.

She says the defendants have encroached on her land.

“I crave leave of this court to amend and enjoin the proposed defendants and the interested party to as to assist the court in resolving the issues under controversy once and for all,” she said.

The case will be heard on October 31.