CITY SLUM DWELLERS SUE MOI
RESIDENTS of Nairobi’s Mukuru kwa Reuben slums in Nairobi have sued retired President Daniel Moi and others over attempts to evict them. Yesterday after hearing the slum dwellers, Justice George Odunga issued a temporary order barring Joseph Kamotho, the former minister and Secretary General of Kanu, from evicting them. Kamotho has been sued alongside Moi, former Lands Commissioners Sammy Mwaita and Wilson Gachanja, and others.
The judge prohibited Kamotho and owners of all properties comprising the current Mukuru settlements from leasing, transferring, mortgaging or engaging with such other dealings that would prejudice the residents' right to property. The other respondents are Kuza Farms and Allied Ltd, Nash Motors, Embakasi Developers, Midway Ventures, Orbit Chemicals Ltd, Beta Engineering, Amsco Chemicals, Woodcraft Industries, Jandu Investments and Oceanfreight Transport Company.
They slum dwellers had gone to court in a class action saying they are constantly harassed and threatened with eviction and demolition of their homes, businesses, schools and places of worship. "If the continued harassment is not stopped, it will result in massive destitution of hundreds of thousands of poor people," they said.
Kamotho, Moi and the others are yet to file replying affidavits to respond to the allegations made by the slum dwellers. Mukuru slum is home to an estimated 600,000 people and stretches from South B to Embakasi following Nairobi River. Most of the residents moved to Nairobi in the hope of a better life but many remain jobless due to lack of skills and education.
The slum dwellers claim that the public land that they occupy was sub-divided and granted to Kamotho and others. They claim that Kamotho used the properties as collateral to borrow large sums of money from various financial institutions. “The reason for making the grants of land to Kamotho and the companies named was solely for the unjust enrichment of the institutions involved and their directors,” they state.
The slum dwellers argue that the land was transferred in breach of public trust. “Disposition of the suit properties to Kamotho and the rest were done secretly and stealthily contrary to the provisions of the Government Lands Act, and with the intent to permanently deprive us and the Kenyan public from entitlement over the suit lands,” they say.
They claim that former President Moi discriminated in the allocation against the Mukuru community on grounds of their social status. They claim that the occupiers of Mukuru slums, numbering over 100,000 families, lived there when the land was allocated to Kamotho and others.
They accused Kamotho and others of unjustly enriching themselves from the proceeds of unlawfully acquired public land and argued that they should return these benefits to the Kenyan public. They slum dwellers argue that they had enjoyed peaceful and uninterrupted occupation of Mukuru since 1980, even if the land had officially been allocated to Kamotho. If squatters stay on land for 12 years without notice to go, they are legally entitled to stay there. The case will be heard on September 20.