49 years later, land row rages as US wades in

Saturday May 25 2019

Margaret Wamaitha Humphrey

A section of the 400-acre piece of land in Mlolongo, Machakos County, owned by the family of Margaret Wamaitha Humphrey but is being claimed by businessman Nzioka Ndambuki. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

BRIAN WASUNA
By BRIAN WASUNA
More by this Author

The US has waded into the protracted battle for a 400-acre piece of land in Mlolongo, on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The saga has seen one of the individuals claiming the prime property abandon his identity and say he is President Uhuru Kenyatta’s nephew.

IRREGULAR

Robert Lloyd Humphrey and his wife Margaret Wamaitha Humphrey bought the land on October 1, 1970 from Beacon Ranch Limited for Sh30,000. The family has been living on the property since then.

Beacon Ranch is the predecessor of the Kenya Meat Commission and held a number of assets, including land.

The Humphreys took a loan from the Agricultural Finance Corporation to purchase the property. But 49 years later, the land is now the subject of a battle between the Humphreys and businessman Nicholas Nzioka Ndambuki.

The businessman has disowned the family that raised him and bequeathed him a piece of land in Mlolongo. While Mr Ndambuki was raised by Mr Mbeti Kiilu, the businessman insists that his real mother was Wanjiku Kahore.

He adds that Ms Kahore was a sister to President Kenyatta. Ms Kahore, he adds, died in 1976.

Despite the National Land Commission and the 2011 task force set up by former Interior minister George Saitoti to look into irregular land allocations in and around Athi River holding that the Humphreys own the property, the saga has raged on.

In 2014, Mr Ndambuki was charged with forging ownership documents relating to the 400-acre piece of land but the suit is yet to be concluded. His attempts to have the case thrown out were dismissed by the Machakos High Court.

GRABBERS

A year earlier, Mr Ndambuki filed two applications in the family division — one seeking to join the succession battle between the Humphreys’ children and another seeking to take control of assets owned by Wanjiku Kahore.

Both cases in the family division of the High Court are still ongoing.

Last week, a representative of the Nairobi National Park Borderlands Residents Association met with US Ambassador Kyle McCarter to seek help, arguing that attempts to get local police to help bore no fruit.

In the meeting, the US Ambassador promised to follow up with authorities on why recommendations of the Saitoti task force land report had never been implemented.

DCI George Kinoti was yet to respond to our queries on whether the US Ambassador to Kenya had reached out to him over the Saitoti task force report as was resolved in the meeting with Nairobi National Park Borderlands Residents Association.

The report recommended the arrest and prosecution of Mr Ndambuki for forgery, criminal trespass, threats to life, fraud and receiving money through false pretences.

The representative told the Saturday Nation that the association has previously met with Sports, Culture and Heritage CS Amina Mohamed, whose intervention saw Mavoko Deputy Commissioner David Juma jump into action. Mr Juma is making security arrangements for the Humphreys and their neighbours.

“I am very distressed that the land grabbing issue has put those of us living along the borderlands of the Nairobi National Park under severe threat of grabbers. I think we are now getting co-operation from the authorities to keep this situation under control,” one of the residents whose land is also under threat told the Saturday Nation.

But even with the security arrangements, temporary structures that were quietly being erected on the Humphreys land are now being openly developed into permanent resident and commercial buildings.

A visit to the land by the Saturday Nation confirmed that several buildings were quickly coming up, some dangerously close to the Standard Gauge Railway line.

Mr Humphrey died on January 17, 1993, leaving several family assets — the Mlolongo land and more parcels in Rombo, Kajiado to his wife.

Between 1982 and 1990, Ms Humphrey subdivided the land and sold four parcels to Christopher Reginald Angel and Janine Kimberly (joint acquisition), Joseph Odero, David Musyimi Ndetei and Edamos Limited.

Mr Ndetei has continued to receive threats on his life from Mr Ndambuki despite getting a court order against the businessman.

The Humphreys continue to occupy the 400 acres.

Mr Ndambuki’s story on how he came to own the land has changed three times before courts, the National Land Commission and the Saitoti task force.

Two years after the Humphreys bought the land, government came knocking and compulsorily acquired 96.3 acres for Sh13,420. The land was to be used for road expansion and the Mlolongo weighbridge.

IDENTITY

But the government ended up taking over 112 acres. Documents before the National Land Commission show that the government only used 15 acres, while the remaining land found its way into the hands of private individuals who developed it and eventually the area grew into what is today Mlolongo town.

Interestingly, the acquisition process for the Mlolongo weighbridge has never been completed and the land it sits on is still registered to Ms Wamaitha Humphrey.

In 2016, the NLC ruled that Mr Humphrey’s title, which is still in the  of her lawyers, A. F. Gross, was valid and detailed all the property’s history.

The NLC added that Mr Ndambuki’s ownership documents were forged.

“Mr Nzioka Ndambuki has a criminal case arising from his altering false documents with respect to this land. He is accused of attempting to change his identity by denying his biological mother and associating himself with a fictitious Kikuyu lady “Wanjiku Kahore”, who, he submitted to the NLC, was his mother and a sister of President Uhuru Kenyatta and passed on in 1976,” the NLC documents read in part.