INVESTIGATIONS ONGOING

Mombasa bar owner hacked to death over land dispute

Police say he might have been killed by his own colleagues who branded him a traitor.

In Summary

• Cyrus Murunga, 46, a bar owner at Seven Stars area of Utange, was slashed in the head by unknown people after he had gone to respond to a commotion near his bar.

• On Tuesday, Utange residents demonstrated against Murunga's killing.

Cyrus Murunga.
KILLED: Cyrus Murunga.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

A Mombasa bar owner was slashed in the head by unknown men over a suspected land dispute. He died on the way to the hospital.

 

Cyrus Murunga, 46, whose business was at Seven Stars area of Utange had gone to respond to a commotion near his bar when he was attacked on Monday.

His firstborn son, Ray Murunga, 23, on Thursday told the Star Murunga had asked for Sh200 from him to settle a matter at his bar.

 

“I was at my shop when he came at around 10pm. Later, a neighbour came to ask me to accompany him, that my dad has been slashed and needs help,” Ray said.

Muslims for Human Rights official Ernest Cornel said Murunga and 199 other families live on a three-acre piece of land that is disputed.

“The case is in court and there is an injunction until the case is heard and determined,” Cornel said.

He said two tycoons laying claim to the land are behind several evictions that have occurred there.

Seven Stars residents protest the killing of Murunga on Tuesday.
ANGRY: Seven Stars residents protest the killing of Murunga on Tuesday.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO

On Tuesday, Utange residents demonstrated against Murunga's killing.

On Wednesday, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji said land disputes formed about 44 per cent of the cases that were reported during public inquiries conducted between January 27 and February 4 in Mombasa and Kilifi counties.

He said this is mainly due to systemic problem and lack of integrity in the criminal justice system.

 

“The main issues vary from the inheritance, double allocation, duplication of titles, malicious prosecution, among others. These need to be addressed immediately,”  Haji said. 

High Court Judge Eric Ogola said Coast has peculiar criminal cases involving land.

“This is the only region where there are people who own land without title deeds. This is the source of all problems,” Ogola said.

The Judge said this problem usually escalates to land invasions with the rich obtaining adverse possessions to claim land.

Cornel said lack of respect for court orders is also to blame.

“In Murunga’s case, he would still be alive if the injunction orders issued would be respected,” he said.

Kisauni subcounty police boss Julius Kiragu said Murunga’s murder is still under investigations.

Kiragu said the disputed land has a case in court and there had been several evictions before.

He noted, however, that Murunga’s business premises had always been spared during the evictions and demolitions raising suspicions among fellow ‘invaders’.

“They questioned why and suspected that he could be the one selling them out. We are trying to find out exactly what happened and who was actually involved in his murder,” Kiragu said.

He denied that Murunga was slashed to death under the watch of police officers sent to oversee an eviction.

“I am the police boss here and I never sent any police officer to that land,” he said.

Police do not usually conduct evictions at night, he said.

(edited by O. Owino)

The scene where Murunga was hacked to death on Monday night.
SOMBRE MOOD: The scene where Murunga was hacked to death on Monday night.
Image: BRIAN OTIENO