Police in Voi thwart attempts by squatters to invade private land
Heavily armed police officers on Monday afternoon raided Mkamenyi village near Mleghwa in Voi sub-county and repulsed dozens of squatters who had started constructing houses in a disputed piece of land.
Led by Voi Deputy County Commissioner Mr. Joseph Mtile, the police arrested two people were erecting a mud-house in the land claimed to belong to an investor in the region. They also carted away property valued at Sh. 100,000 as exhibits.
Officers drawn from Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Prisons, AP, regular police, National Intelligence Service (NIS) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations were involved in the raid.
Speaking to KNA, Voi OCPD Joseph Chesire said invading of private property was an offence that would not be allowed. He said the government would protect the right to property by private individuals and called for amicable solutions to land wrangles. He urged the parties to obtain orders from the courts before invading private property.
“The courts are there to listen to all grievances and make judgment. If you have a case, the court will decide for you,” he said.
This is the third raid within six months with the squatters claiming that Mkamenyi village under Mkamenyi Farmers’ Cooperative Society is their ancestral home. However, the residents claimed the investor displaced them when he acquired the land irregularly.
Mr. George Mwanjala chairman of the cooperative society, rubbished claims that they were squatters and said the investor was guilty of grabbing land belonging to the locals.
He added that over 6,000 members were laying claim to the disputed land parcel and appealed to National Land Commission (NLC) to give the land to the community.
Mr. Mwanjala said the land they were claiming was 1,953Ha that is part of Voi Sisal Estate.
The land was part of Crown Land for the community in the 70’s but later was registered under a private individual under unclear circumstances. Afterwards, the locals were driven away from the land as the new owner said he wanted to develop the area.
“We are the owners of this land. We have all the documents to show but we are being harassed here. The police are being used to intimidate us,” said Mr. Mwanjala.
Mr. Mwanjala was accompanied by officials of the society who vowed to stay put and resist any intimidation. They claimed the powerful investor was using the police to flush them out of the land.
When KNA visited the site, there were over fifteen semi-permanent mud houses that were being erected. There were also several water tanks that suggested attempts of permanency by the residents.
However, Ms. Clara Namasu, resident, admitted that she had rushed at the site when she heard locals were sub-dividing the land. She said she didn’t want to be left out.
“I live in Voi but people are staking this land. So I came too,” she said.
The two people arrested will be arraigned in court to answer trespass charges.
By Wagema Mwangi