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February 16, 2019

Residents protest demolitions of houses in Mavoko land row

One of the structures demolished on the Mulinge scheme land in Mlolongo, Machakos County on Saturday, January 19, 2019. /GEORGE OWITI
One of the structures demolished on the Mulinge scheme land in Mlolongo, Machakos County on Saturday, January 19, 2019. /GEORGE OWITI

A section of Mavoko residents is protesting against the ongoing demolitions of houses on Mulinge Scheme land in Mlolongo, Machakos County.

The residents claim that a few tycoons have ‘bribed’ police officers to help them in evicting the original owners from the 2,000 hectares.

The operations have been going on the land for the past week.

The complainants said they belong to Juhudi, Wealth Creations, Clean ways and Spotlight community-based organisations.

They claim some of them had lived on the land since the 1980s and have nowhere else to call home.

“We are being attacked by strangers under the guise of landowners, they come at night while most of us are asleep,” the residents' spokesman Peter Mulwa said.

Mulwa accused police officers of protecting the ‘land grabbers’ instead of defending the ‘original’ owners of the contested land.

He said the land was donated to them during retired President Daniel Moi’s regime in the 1980’s through the late retired General Jackson Mulinge.

Read: State to repossess grabbed land in Mavoko – official

“Before we came in, the land was vacant and bushy. It was a den of wild animals. Mulinge got it from Kanu as a reward when he contested on the party’s ticket in 1982,” Mulwa said.

Speaking to the Star on Saturday at the site, Mulwa said their ancestors paid Sh50 each as shares to acquire an acre each of the land.

The protestors claimed apart from their houses being demolished, they had also lost other property including poultry and pigs which they depend on for their livelihood.

The residents claimed more than 20 houses have been demolished by two graders hired by the ‘cartels’.

They called on relevant authorities to intervene for the demolitions to be stopped.

The residents threatened to move to court if police do not seize their operations on the land.

However, Athi River deputy county commissioner David Juma said the complainants do not have documents to prove that the land in question belongs to them.

Juma said the police operations are meant to flash out criminals from the Mulinge scheme land.

“Those claiming that their houses are being demolished are the criminals. Let them produce documents of land ownership and they will not be disturbed,” Juma told the Star.

He said the government will ensure that investors who legitimately acquired land in the area and hold genuine ownership documents are protected to develop their property.

Read also: Move off grabbed land in Mavoko, CS orders cartels

Juma said some of the protestors use outlawed groups to attack landowners whenever they visit their land with the intention of developing them.

He said police had arrested some of the suspects and will be arraigned in court once investigations are concluded.

Juma said some criminals use the makeshift structures being demolished as their hideouts.

“Most of those structures have nothing, no bedding or any reasonable household. Our chiefs nabbed bhang and illicit brew (chang’aa) from the structures. We will flush out all the criminals from the entire Athi River subcounty,” Juma said.

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