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Grave refilled as burial ceremony in Nyeri County aborts over land dispute

The Coffin carrying the remains of the late Mary Njoki Kariuki in a hearse at Ithenguri village, Nyeri County Saturday. Her burial at the village aborted over a land tussle. The family later buried her at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Nyeri town. Photo by KNA.
A youth plants bananas on the refilled grave where Mary Njoki Kariuki was to be interred on Saturday May 16, 2020 at Ithenguri village, Nyeri County. The body was later buried at St. Peter’s cemetery in Nyeri town. Photo by KNA.
Youths refill a grave at Ithenguri village, Nyeri Central Constituency in Nyeri County Saturday after the burial of Mary Njoki Kariuki aborted over a land dispute. Police guarded the scene but no ugly incident occurred. Photo by KNA.

A  family from Nairobi was left in shock after being prevented from interring their relative in a disputed ancestral land at Ithenguri village, Nyeri town constituency in Nyeri County.

The grave where the body of Mary Njoki Kariuki was to be laid to rest was refilled and banana plants planted on top according to Kikuyu customs.

Trouble started when the family of the deceased arrived early Saturday morning and started digging the grave but they were prevented by another family that also lays claim to the land parcel.

The body of the deceased was held in the hearse that transported it as the families sought an amicable solution to the standoff to no avail.

The  claimant of the land, Mrs. Cecilia Wambui Gitonga said she bought the parcel from the late Gregory Kariuki King’ori in 1998 and there has not been any complaint from the aggrieved party.

“Mimi nilinunua hii shamba mwaka wa 1998 na sijakuwa na shinda na hawa,” (I purchased this land in 1998 and there has not been any complaint from this family), Gitonga told the press at the scene.

She added that even the seller of the land and his wife were not buried at the disputed land and wondered why the family was now complaining.

A daughter to the deceased, Ms. Grace Wanjiru Kariuki alleged that Mrs. Gitonga bought the land fraudulently as no succession case had been filed to transfer the land to the rightful heirs.

“Hii shamba iliuzwa kwa njia gani bila kufanya succession, hii ni corruption,” (How was the land sold without filling a succession case, this is graft), Ms. Kariuki posed.

Gregory Kariuki Kingori’s sister, Ms. Victoria Muthoni claimed she had the original title deed of their father’s land and wondered how his brother sold the land without following the legal process.

After the standoff between the parties, a decision was arrived at by the authorities and it was agreed the body should not be buried in the land.

All the queries by the press were referred to the Nyeri Central OCPD, Paul Kuria who was not in his office by press time.

The area sub-location assistant chief, Ms. Esther Wagaki who was present refused to talk to the press only saying she was waiting for her senior to arrive and comment on the matter.

By the time of going to press, KNA reliably established that the body of Mary Njoki Kariuki was interred at St. Peter’s Nyeri cemetery in Nyeri town with a brief ceremony presided over by Pastor David Muchemi of CRJ church-Nairobi.

By Mwangi Gaitha

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