Members of a self-help group in Nairobi have reached a dead end. Literally.
They are more of suicidal and have threatened to storm a presidential rally or national celebrations to have their case heard.
They are not hiding a fact they are planning to protest outside State House Nairobi, after making another march to the Office of the President early this year.
For the last 20 years Sowesava Self Help Group in Embakasi have given justice, fairness and probability a chance and it has all but failed.
In their quest for justice, they have met friends who have later betrayed their cause, police have broken their protests, arrested them and charged them for various reasons from trespass to malicious damage and forgery.
At the moment, more than a dozen of them have been charged in court and in the ensuing confusion, conmen have infiltrated them and taken advantage of them.
Previously, the courts have ruled on many occasions in their favour but access to the piece of land they claim ownership has not been easy. It has been bloody.
There have been many rulings in their favour, including one by current Attorney General Paul Kihara, Seven different judges have made rulings on the matter and their opponent in this case, Gidjoy Investment have never appealed. Not once.
In the process, they have gone through the land acquisition procedures, but never has it been actualised.
The death of would-be buyer of the land they lay claim to a month ago deprived them of the only friend they had pinned all hope on.
The businessman died at a hotel in Thika Town where he had travelled for business. He suffered a heart attack in the middle of a discussion and was pronounced dead. Not related to this land case, the businessman had a history diabetes and high blood pressure.
“We know the media has been compromised. The media, who talk everyday about injustice are our biggest enemies. They have turned our plight into a money making scheme. When our cases come up in court, they arrive there early, but only report negative parts on us. That is why we will always give our stories to the blogs.
“When we brought in the media to help us, we believed in fairness and objective reporting. But, that has not been the case. We are up against a wealthy man. One of the country’s richest people,” says Joseph Manuni (not first name, for fear of repercussions).
They have left everything in the hands of God as they await what befalls them next.
Two months ago, the chairman of the group Alexander Hoops Shihemi, a former Chief in Nairobi was arraigned and charged for allegedly forging documents. Two weeks before that, another set of businessmen had been charged with the same.
The prime plot, currently valued at Sh1.2 billion has also been a source of conmanship. Several people have been promised ownership of the land. They have parted with millions of shillings and lost at the same time.
Joseph Mukabana, a former opposition party ODM youth leader was shot dead at the entrance of his house after attending a meeting in Donholm.
His death shocked the country and burial was attended by the who is who in the political ranks, including then Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero (Sowesava believe he was induced by Muriuki to complicate the case), ODM leader Raila Odinga, Makadara MP George Aladwa, Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, all who promised to solve the riddle of the death.
His wife Sharon refuses to talk much about it, but admits that the husband told her about a land they (Sowesava) owned and they were about to sell.
“I cannot say his death came from the land, but I am aware about an existing fight over a piece of land. He was helping many youth in the city acquire property and this was part of his calling to the youth movement. I am sure that one day, the truth will be known. I dont even understand when my children come with stories they gather about their father’s death,” Sharon says.
Currently, she does not have a steady income; she has been locked of her house several times, only to be helped out by the husband’s old friends.
Another member, Patrobas Owino flatly refused to talk about the case, insisting they have no faith in journalists. He insisted that those interviewing him were either spies working for Gidjoy Investment whose director Gideon Muriuki (Cooperative Bank CEO) has sent him to court (sic).
“I don’t want anything to do with journalists. There is a case in court and I cannot talk about this particular issue. Please leave me alone. Go and tell Muriuki (Gideon) that I am fine. I know you have been sent to spy on me,” an infuriated Patrobas said.
But, Manuni does not lay the claim squarely on Gidjoy, he believes that so much manipulation happened at City Hall to deny them justice.
He believes that if an internal investigation report and the National Lands Commission (NLC) was followed, shenanigans around the land could have ended.
“The biggest problem in Kenya is journalists. They continue to frustrate us a lot. They even sell our stories to Muriuki. Right now, they are being used to monitor our movements. The blood of those killed and others who have died mysteriously is in the hands of the journalists. We know how much was paid to cover a story about Shihemi’s arrest last month. We know the journalists who used to cover our stories and are permanently in Muriuki’s office soliciting for funds. We can name them. We know them,” Manuni, a former City Council official says.
Florence Mbithe, who husband died (she alleges it was because of the land) wipes her tears when asked to comment, though she also fears journalists.
“Why do you come here now and when we are being beaten by Muriuki (Gideon) you don’t talk. I know that you just want to hear what I am saying so that you can get money from those people who sent you. I have been hurt fighting for this land. But it is not in vain. Leave my house,” she angrily sends the reporter away.
The fear of journalists aside, the members believe that the whole issue can be resolved by either allowing them access to their land or getting an alternative land.
At the moment, a plan to storm a political rally is in the works and the Sowesava members insist they will go ahead with the embarrassing action, if it will make them get justice.
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