LOBBY GROUP PROTESTS

76 families face eviction in Taita Taveta

They were not allocated any land at the time of relocation from Gicheha farm.

In Summary
  • Haki Yetu says a dispute and complaints committee established to look into their cases did not render an actionable verdict.
  • Assistant county commissioner Madamu Sharon said the hills and rocky land where the families settled on belong to Gicheha farm.
Protestors on Friday.
SOON TO BE HOMELESS? Protestors on Friday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

About 76 families in Njukini area of Taita Taveta county are facing eviction after receiving notices to vacate the land they are living on by Monday.

Haki Yetu civil society organisation said the families are part of hundreds evicted in 2018 from Gicheha farm, land believed to be the property of a prominent family in the country. They were resettled in adjacent land known as Sir Ramson.

“This became the Ziwani settlement Scheme in Taveta subcounty. During the resettlement, some of the targeted beneficiaries were not allocated land,” said Haki Yetu’s Peter Kazungu.

The lobby group says a dispute and complaints committee established to look into their cases did not render actionable verdict, leaving the affected families with nowhere to settle except on rocky grounds and hilltops where no one had been allocated land. 

It is these families that are targeted by notices to vacate or face forceful evictions. 

On Monday, during a baraza conducted at Ziwani settlement scheme, Chala/Njukini assistant county commissioner Madamu Sharon said the hills and rocky grounds where the families settled to Gicheha farm. 

She said they are not part of the settlement scheme despite the hills being located within the settlement scheme.

The Taita Taveta county government on Wednesday said the eviction is likely to cause a crisis that cannot be ignored by both governments.

 

“While we respect private property, still it would have been better that the matter was discussed by both governments and the owners of the land to address the problem so as to take sustainable measures to avoid the impending crisis,” said Taita Taveta Land executive Julius Mghanga in a letter addressed to the county commissioner.

He requested that the planned eviction be suspended to allow for a meeting between the county and the owners of the land.

 

Haki Yetu in a letter to the Taveta subcounty administration said the practice of forced evictions is addressed by a number of national and international laws.

“Additionally, the National Land Policy 2009 and the Constitution of Kenya 2010 recognise the need to have an appropriate eviction guideline,” Haki Yetu executive director Fr Gabriel Dolan said. 

Dolan said the families were not furnished with written notices and that the weather is currently not conducive for any evictions, especially with the threat of Covid-19 still lingering.

“In light of this, should any evictions be undertaken in the area, you shall be held personally liable for any human rights violations,” Dolan said in a letter.

On Saturday, the cleric and human rights defender called on authorities to ensure the evictions do not occur.

Edited by Henry Makori