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County Commissioner warns land grabbers

Machakos County Commissioner (CC) Fredrick Ndunga has warned land grabbers and cartels operating in Mavoko sub-county of Machakos against deceiving unsuspecting residents and selling them non-existing land.

Addressing the press Friday at Ngelani Scheme Block One shortly after a meeting, Ndunga said that the government would not allow grabbing of government land by greedy cartels and the law would not be lenient on anyone found culpable.
“We cannot watch as the notorious land brokers who are on the prowl grab all public utility land in Mlolongo and Athi River areas of Mavoko,” said Ndunga.
He advised those intending to purchase land within the sub-county to be cautious and follow the right legal procedures to avoid falling prey.
Ndunga regretted that several con-land brokers sold land which does not belong to them thereby causing buyers great financial and emotional losses.
“We have had cases where some people invade government land and start selling it to unsuspecting buyers knowing very well that it does not belong to them,” said Ndunga.
He further urged residents to be careful while buying land in Machakos to avoid falling prey to these greedy cartels.
Ndunga said the government would ensure that investors who legitimately acquired land in the area and hold genuine ownership documents were protected so that they could develop their property.
The CC pointed out that some of the protestors used outlawed groups to attack landowners whenever they visited their land.
In January 2019, Athi River Sub-county Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) David Juma also cautioned illegal landowners in Athi River area on Mavoko against grabbing both private and public land.

Juma who was responding to recent protests following demolitions at Kwa Mulinge land scheme in Mlolongo pointed out that the ongoing police operations were meant to flash out criminals who were a security threat to the real landowners.

Juma said the occupants of the illegal structures were cartels who do not have legal documents to prove that the land in question belonged to them.
“Those claiming that their houses are being demolished are the criminals. Let them produce documents of land ownership and they will not be disturbed,” said Juma

The DCC said the government would ensure that investors who legitimately acquired land in the area and held genuine ownership documents were protected so that they could develop their property.

Juma revealed that police had arrested some of the suspects who will be arraigned in court once investigations are concluded adding that some of the cartels are criminals who use the makeshift structures as their hideouts.

In December 2018, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i on his part vowed to streamline land issues in Mavoko and Kitengela.

Addressing the public at Slota Estate in Athi River town, Matiang’i said his Ministry’s next mission after managing security was to fight land cartels who have invaded private and public land in parts of the sub-county.

On her part, Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney said the government was putting in place the necessary measures to deal with cartels that have infiltrated the land sector.

Karoney said it would virtually be impossible for such individuals to have their ways into the system once auditing and centralization of land documents were completed.
She said her office was working closely with the Machakos government to solve the perennial squatter challenge, which is synonymous in Mavoko.
She said one of the measures the ministry is undertaking is to ensure all parcels of land in the country are registered and have genuine title deeds while those without proper ownership papers would have their issues addressed.
In December 2018, a 13-member taskforce was established under gazette notice no. 12622 and a note of extension of the period through a gazette notice no. 1555 of February 15, 2019.
The task force was expected to review and assess the implementation status of the November 2011 report of the taskforce on Irregular Appropriation of Public Land and the Squatter Problem in Athi River District presented to the then Minister of State and Internal Security the late Prof. George Saitoti.
The taskforce was also to ascertain the status of land allocation in the Mavoko area and whether there are any cases of fraud or irregular appropriation of land happening since the November 2011 Report was presented for implementation.
In addition, it was mandated to identify public lands and advice on the status of titling of such lands and find out how public institutions were utilizing land allocated to them and the mechanisms in place to protect the land.
The task force’s inception was necessitated after several inquiries, complaints, and concerns were received at the Land Ministry regarding the increased rate of invasion and illegal appropriation of both public and private lands and properties in Mavoko.
By Rachael Kilonzo

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