An 85-year old widow and her family in Makueni have appealed to Chief Justice David Maraga, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji and the Attorney General to help them end a 34-year land dispute.
Mbwele Muoki and her two sons say they have nowhere to bury their kin after their land was illegally possessed by a stranger who has declined to move from the land despite several court rulings declaring that they are the lawful owners.
She says the 11.3-hectare land located in Kaseve village near Wote town in Makueni subcounty was allegedly sold at a cost of Sh29,000 to an influential son of a former Chief, Mutie Kioko in 1984 by her stepson, Muli Muoki who went missing since then.
“I have never lived a happy life since the demise of my husband, I have even been forced to bury my two sons in borrowed burial sites as I am unable to access my land,” said Mbwele.
One of her sons, Waviti Muoki was buried at Makueni Cemetery and another, John Muoki was buried at a relative’s home at Malivani village, near the disputed land.
When The Star visited the widow at Tamu Tamu village in Kathonzweni subcounty, the mother of five looked sad and troubled as she narrated how she has lived a miserable life since the death of her husband.
“I left home with my children after my stepson started threatening me and my co-wife who has since died; I later learned that the land was fraudulently bought by Mutie who has been disobeying court rulings,” she said.
She went on: “He would come home drunk late at night and forcefully pick items from the house to go and sell. When I question him he turns violent, I had no choice but to leave,” Mbwele said.
Her three sons who were little boys when she left their home said their plans to get married have been unsuccessful because of the land dispute.
“I have tried to approach multiple women but they run away once they discover am leaving on a borrowed land, just like my young brothers,” said Muendo Muoki, her 50-year-old firstborn.
According to court documents in her possession bearing both judgments and rulings from various high courts, Mbwele is the lawful owner of the land but the trespasser has never moved or evicted.
The sickly woman says that once a ruling is made, Mutie swiftly moves to court to block the eviction.
“Am afraid if justice is not fully served, I may die before I settle in my land and that is his intention when applying the delaying tactics,” said Mbwele
In 2009, a certificate of confirmation of grant issued by Justice Isaac Lenaola seating at the Machakos High Court shows that Mbwele Muoki and Denis Muoki were given a grant of representation to the estate of the late Muoki Muasya.
Another ruling delivered in 2010 by the Environment and Land court in Machakos indicates that Mutie Kioko, the defendant purchased the piece of land from strangers and not from the lawful owner, Muoki Muasya the deceased and that he should claim a refund of his money from those who received it.
“In any event, Mutie Kioko has no lawful interests in this estate and he can pursue a refund of his money from those that illegally received it,” reads the ruling delivered by Justice Oscar Angote.
Mutie filed defense and counterclaim that was dismissed by the court soon after the complainant filed a case seeking his eviction.
“In the premise, the application by the applicant doesn’t establish a prima facie case with a possibility of success. The applicant is unlawful and ought to have moved out latest by 2009 when the court found his claim over the property unlawful and invalid,” read part of a ruling after the applicant’s counterclaim.
Seven years ago, the complainant had to seek court intervention to help bury one their kin whose body had stayed at Kenyatta National Hospital mortuary for 1 year due to lack of burial site after the defendant allegedly chased them with bows and arrows when they attempted to access the land in question for burial preparation.
“We took the body that we had moved from Kenyatta National Hospital for burial to Makueni Level -4 hospitals where it was preserved temporarily to obtain a court order,” Mbwele said.
Later, the remains of Dennis Muoki, Mbwele’s stepson were laid to rest at the disputed land in presence of heavy police officers after Machakos high court ruled that the defendant was the unlawful owner of the disputed land.
A case that was filed by the defendant in fresh counterclaims will be heard on 27th March next year and Machakos high court.
Mbwele now wants the Chief Justice and other government agencies to intervene and help her end the land dispute that has dragged on for 34 years.
She also wants the defendant stopped from making further applications and developing the land.
She hopes that justice will favour her as she is the only living appellant.
Mutua Kameti/ The Star