The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Squatters Evicted in Taita Taveta

Hundreds of families in Taveta spent the night in the cold after they were evicted from a government land. The Riata squatters said they have been living on the land for many years. They said they were not issued an eviction notice.

A resident, Joseph Kioko, said lands officials yesterday hired goons who burnt their houses. "This is very inhuman to treat people this way. Even students who are sitting examinations don't know where they will sleep today," he said.

Kioko said they have incurred losses after their properties were destroyed by fire and bulldozers. "The bulldozers have destroyed crops, houses and even fish ponds that were recently constructed," he said.

He said that they had not been given eviction notice by the lands officials who were demolishing the houses."The evictions are illegal.We know those behind the evictions is a local provincial administrator who is under the protection of a senior politician in the government," he said.

A local human rights activist, Jasper Murutu blamed the government for using excessive force in evicting the people. "This is an abuse to human rights and that is why we are condemning the lands officials for the eviction," he said adding that scores of other were also arrested by police.

Taveta OCPD Paul Kisang distanced the police from blame saying that their duty was to ensure no violence erupted during the eviction.

"The police have nothing to do with the eviction of the people. The lands officials were the ones who were effecting the demolitions in order to pave way for resettlement of squatters in the peace of land," he said.

Kisang said that the land in dispute was recently bought to settle squatters in Taveta town. "The families were illegally staying at a government land where they established permanent structures in the 15,000 acre government land.Resettlement cannot be done when they are still there," he said.

Taveta DC Heribae Nkaduda said that those who were being evicted had encroached the land recently. "Those who are being evicted are not the genuine people who are supposed to be in the land.Those people came and settled recently.

The genuine owners are living there peacefully," he said during a telephone interview with the Star yesterday afternoon

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