No end in sight to Mau evictions as court dismisses governor bid to stop exercise

Peter Leshan  and Nancy Gitonga

The Maasai Mau evictions are far from over as  the government has issued a notice to evict  more than 40,000 squatters in the second phase that would target individuals outside the caveat area.

At the same time, the High Court has declined to issue orders stopping Mau forest evictions and instead set August 6 as the date for inter-parte hearing.

Addressing journalists in his office yesterday, Narok County Commissioner George Natembeya, however, asked the 7,989 households who were put on the “status quo in 2009/2010 Mau Task Force report to surrender their title deeds for verification before the exercise kicks off.

He said the 2008 boundaries set by the Mau task force report would be used  in the second phase  to determine where the evictions would be carried out.

The county commissioner  also rubbished threats and intimidations by some  Rift Valley leaders saying he shall stop at nothing in implementing the Jubilee manifesto of preservation of water towers and wetlands.

He said in the first phase where the operation was carried out at Kosia, Nkoben,Ororwet, the  government recovered  4,500 hectares that had been invaded by the illegal settlers.

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony had  moved to the High Court seeking orders  to stop the government from evicting settlers in  Maasai Mau forest.

Genuine title deeds

In his certificate of urgency application filed before Narok Lands and Environment Court, he says that the eviction over 40,000 squatters by the State is inhumane. “The eviction is being done in the most inhumane manner,” he says. 

The security officers burn houses, livestock, and beat up the property owners in a brazen display of impunity and high handedness.

“It is scorched earth eviction,” read the court papers in part.Through lawyer Peter Wanyama, the governor also avers that the settlers hold genuine title deeds issued by the government.

In his petition, the governor listed Cabinet secretaries for Lands Farida Karoney and her Interior and Coordination Fred Matiang’i, Narok County Commissioner Natembeya and the National Land Commission as respondents.

“That the title deed issued in respect of the said former group ranches were all  legally issued by the Government of Kenya and were authorised to subdivide the group ranches into individual parcels of lands,” says the governor.

The lawyer urgues that the government is illegally expected to evict settlers from former group ranches namely Reiyo, Enakishomi, Sisiyan, Enoosokon and Nkaroni.

The governor further urgues that the respondents’ actions are politically motivated and instigated. “Senior government officials and politicians, who are behind the evictions it appears wants to steal the land from the said former group ranches owners,”says  Chepkwony.

Peace and stability

He further avers that the respondents have with impunity and abused of power and maliciously conducted the exercise and completely disregarded the rights of the private land owners as provided and protected under the Constitution.

The governor also says that the respondents have illegally and unlawfully forcibly evicted legal owners of land in Reiyo Ranch and malicious destroyed property and 4,000 acres of land.

He argues  that the eviction is a real, live and serious threat to the security exercise, peace and stability of the area if the forcible evictions, malicious destruction of property and alienation of the owners property rights illegally proceeds.

“That the ongoing eviction targeting the said ranches will trigger insecurity problems in the region since many people are dissatisfied with their impending disenfranchisement,” reads the court document.

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