Elderly women who have managed the troubled Ngoingwa land buying Company in Thika for over 40 years have come out strongly to defend themselves from land grabbing claims, saying they are not fraudsters.
The women, mostly directors in their late 80’s said the claims being fronted by some area politicians were baseless and were meant to soil the company’s good name.
The women who almost broke to tears said being called land grabbers and thieves by the community that they had helped for over 40 years to acquire land had affected their health as some suffered from terminal illnesses.
Damaris Njoki, 88, the secretary said none of their 1,216 shareholders has ever complained of being defrauded of their land and wondered why politicians were hell-bent to taint the company’s good.
She said the controversies surrounding their operations have affected their business with shareholders who they are yet to settle.
“This is not good for property business. It is difficult now for any property owner in Ngoingwa to sell their land. Business people are leaving because of hearsay from politicians,” said Njoki.
The women narrated how the first President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta convinced the owner of the land, formerly Chania coffee plantation, to sell it to them in 1972.
“After toiling in the coffee plantation for years earning very little, we saved some money which we used to buy the land from the Indian investor. Mzee Kenyatta played a big role in helping us own the land. Now we are saddened to hear politicians calling us thieves. What can 85 year old women steal? We are not in the age of confrontations,” said Njoki.
The Treasurer Priscilla Muthoni, 85, called on politicians to allow them age gracefully. She wondered why such allegations did not come out in the past despite being involved in land business for over 40 years.
Chairlady Teresia Wanjku said the company has never been involved in bloody confrontations among Directors and shareholders and called on their members to ignore the naysayers.
The National Lands Commission had revoked some titles for the land, claiming they were fraudulently acquired. This forced the company to seek legal redress at the Thika Environment and Lands court whose ruling will be on April 15.
The controversies led to fist fights between the company’s spokesperson and a former Thika Mayor David Njihia and Thika Municipality MCA Antony Kimani two weeks ago.
During the same time, a group of residents demolished a building that they allege had been built on land set for a playground, allegedly being sold by the company.
“It is not about land grabbing but rather failing to set aside enough land for public amenities. However, the number of churches, schools, police posts and play grounds that have benefited from our land are so many. This is just politics at play,” said Njihia.
He disclosed that once they resettle some bank debts that they have and resettle the remaining less than 50 shareholders in their Munyu land, they will close the company for good. “We shall have accomplished our objective of enabling over 1,200 people to own plots and homes,” he said.
By Muoki Charles