14 November 2012

Kenya: Widows Take Sh90 Million Land Suit to New Court

Two businesswomen, who have for the last three years been embroiled in a land dispute with the PCEA have taken the matter to the newly established Environment and Land Court.

Alice Wangui Mwaniki and Agnes Wambui Kiritu claimed they separately secured a Sh90 million loan to buy a 60-acre parcel of land in Ruiru, which was being sold by Milele Ventures, a company whose directors are senior clerics at the Presbyterian Church of East Africa.

But after completing their payments, the directors of the company allegedly reneged on the agreement, reduced the acreage they were entitled to and went ahead to subdivide the land, which the company then sold to other buyers, majority of them church members.

Even after filing the case two years ago, it has never been heard even as the women continue to repay their loans. The two women--both widows--now hope the new court will hear and determine the matter as soon as possible.

Some 15 judges of the new court were sworn in two weeks ago and dispatched to various stations across the country. The women want the court to order Milele Ventures to register the land in their names.

They are also seeking to stop the company from further sub-dividing and selling the land. They had successfully placed caveats on the land but later learned the directors were subdividing it, forcing them to file contempt proceedings.

However, Justice Msagha Mbogholi directed the case to proceed to full hearing. In reply to the suit, Milele directors acknowledge the sale agreement but dismiss the claims that the two women were entitled to 60 acres.

Instead, the company accuses the widows of failing to complete their payments in time, forcing the company to subdivide the land and sell it to other buyers.

"They are seeking orders against a property, which no longer exists and even if it did, it originally measured 510 acres and they have not indicated whether or not they were purchasing all of the land," says the Rev Simon Mwaura, one of the directors of the company, in a sworn statement.

The Rev Mwaura, however, acknowledges entering the agreement with the women but blames them for not completing the transaction within the stipulated time.

Wangui said in her affidavit that the agreement with Milele Ventures was that she would pay Sh15 million for 10 acres of land.

She said she completed paying for the land in July 2010 but Milele Ventures declined to release documents to enable her register the property in her name.

Her colleague Wambui claims that she borrowed Sh85 million to buy a 50-acre plot and has never got the papers even though she has completed paying for the land. The case will be mentioned November 20.

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