Unresolved land issues linked to murder of trio in Kilifi

The killing of Sumra, Kasmani and Kazungu has exposed the county's deep-rooted land woes

In Summary
  • On Monday, Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga told the Star that the land in question has been in dispute for over 30 years.
  • He said four people who own the 1,700 acres are currently being investigated.
Crime scene
CRIME: Crime scene

The investigations into the murder of three people in Kilifi last week has revealed the deep-rooted unresolved land issues at the Coast.

The three—Sidik Anwarali Sumra, Rahil Mohamed Kasmani and James Kazungu—were killed in Junju village in Kilifi South subcounty, over a suspected land tussle.

Sumra and Kasmani are Kenyans of Indian descent.

According to residents Sumra has a dairy farm in Junju village while Kasmani was his driver, Kazungu on the other hand was a land agent in the area.

On Monday, Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi told the press that the trio's killing was an act of lawlessness and is unacceptable.

“Today, I join other law-abiding residents of Kilifi in condemning this uncalled-for brutality, which only serves to cast our county in bad light, at a time when we are busy wooing investors to set up their operations here and create jobs,” he said.

According to Kingi, the deep-rooted land issues in the region can be resolved amicably without the shedding of blood.

“My government fully supports the use of peaceful and legal means in resolving any issues relating to land ownership and acquisition and has put in place measures, among them holding land clinics that educate our people on how to actualise their rights to land ownership,” the governor said.

Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai had on Sunday linked the murder of the trio to incitement by local leaders against non-locals.

However, some leaders said the killings should be treated as any other criminal activity.

On Monday, Kilifi South MP Ken Chonga told the Star that the land, which spans from Bodoi, Junju to Kidogo, has been in dispute for over 30 years.

“We have been following up on this issue and I have since requested a statement on that land,” Chonga said.

He said four people who own the 1,700 acres are currently being investigated.

So far, 15 people, among them a former Junju MCA, have been arrested in connection with the incident.

Sumra, a prominent investor and well-known dairy farmer in the region, is a brother to former Embakasi South MP Irshad Sumra.

On Tuesday, Irshad vowed to pursue justice for his brother.

“I have talked to the Inspector General of Police, Interior CS Fred Matiang'i and they have assured me they will pursue the matter until the end,” Irshad said.

Coast regional coordinator John Elungata told the Star that the investigations are still ongoing and that the families and public should allow them to conclude their investigations.

“We have been to the scene and the police are still investigating. Give them time,” he said.

On Monday, 13 people were arraigned in connection with the killings of the three. They are still being held at Mtwapa police station.

On Tuesday, Onesmus Gambo and Raphael Karisa were arraigned over the murder, with the prosecution asking for 21 days to detain the duo until they conclude their investigation.

Gambo is the former Junju ward MCA.

Principal magistrate Yusuf Shikanda directed that the duo be detained at the Mtwapa police station as detectives complete investigations and record statements of key witnesses who live outside Kilifi county.

The prosecutor said a contentious portion of the land is currently being occupied by squatters who attacked the three people, claiming they had gone to take over their land.

Karisa, who was arrested alongside Gambo, is said to be one of the squatters living on the land.

-Edited by SKanyara