- Fresh letters to evict them were circulated last week demanding they vacate immediately.
- Six years ago, they were ordered not to bury their loved ones in the land as it belonged to TARDA.
Kithumuoni village in Mumoni subcounty, Kitui, has strange tales of families who are unable to inter their dead loved ones on land they claim to own but from where they face eviction.
James Kimanzi Kiteme says the problem started in 1985 when officers who claimed to be from Tana and Athi Rivers Development Authority gave small tokens to the villagers who live 6km from Kiambere dam to allow a road to the dam.
“We only hear that they bought the land near the dam but many say they were being given between Sh500 and Sh700 per an acre back in 1985,” he said.
Since then, the villagers have been threatened with eviction from the land which they claim is their ancestral land.
Fresh letters to evict them were circulated last week demanding they vacate immediately.
Kimanzi said six years ago they were ordered not to bury their loved ones in the land as it belonged to TARDA.
“We have abandoned many bodies in the mortuaries as we have nowhere to bury them. Others have borrowed or bought pieces of land in the neighbourhood to bury the dead,” Kimanzi said.
The villagers can no longer cultivate their farms as they are would be arrested when caught farming.
Pius Muneni said he lost his wife in 2016 whose body was preserved in Embu hospital mortuary.
Muneni said he was forced to inter her remains where she was born.
“TARDA officers said we could not bury the dead in their land when we had already moved the body from the mortuary. We traveled at night to my wife’s place to inter her after being ordered not to bury her at our home,” Muneni recalled.
He pleaded with the county and national governments to intervene to get back their own land.
Muisyo Kithome, another villager, said he lost his sister-in-law in 2017. “We pleaded with our neighbours and they allocated us a small piece of land where we buried her and were forced to bury a sheep on the grave we had dug to inter her,” Muisyo narrated.
Mutindi Kitile, a 60-year-old a widow, urged the two governments to intervene and rescue them from the nightmare as they have nowhere to relocate to.
“I have buried my four children and husband here and this is where I call home,” said Mutindi.
“Our children are not at peace. They cannot even concentrate on their studies fearing they might soon be chased from their land,” Mutindi said.
John Mutua, a youth from the area, said the eviction threats have affected the younger generation as they can never construct permanent buildings or invest in as they fear being evicted anytime.
He claimed the area has never been surveyed and they are referred to as squatters.
Mating’u Matosha said they have been asked to move out of the land on March 16 or face eviction. “Where will I take my seven children?” wondered Mating’u.
TARDA in the eviction note dated February 16 said following the end of a court matter between the authority and Joseph Muli Mukuluta and others, the court allowed them to evict illegal squatters from the property amicably but it was not successful.
The court decided the matter in favour of the authority on March 12 last year. The authority was tasked with ensuring the property was properly demarcated and beaconed.
The eviction letter states that the demarcation process was hindered mid-way by the local community who became hostile to the authority.
The defendants then applied for a stay of execution of the orders. The court noted that the defendants had not filed an appeal in the matter.The court dismissed the stay of execution petition on June 18, 2020.
The court then granted execution orders dated September 2020 also directing that the police commander Eastern Region to provide security during the eviction.