Kilifi, KENYA: More than thirty thousand people among them pupils and students in Mtomondoni Primary and Secondary schools in Mtwapa, Kilifi South are facing eviction.
It is alleged that more than ten tycoons are demanding the 108-acre piece of land and have given the community up to August this year to pay them an unstated amount of money.
Residents say the tycoons have maintained their stand to reclaim their two parcels of land (plot no 11 and 13).
Speaking at Mtomondoni Primary School during a community meeting on Thursday, Samsom Mwachai said the locals have resided on the land for years until the late 1990s when unknown individuals surfaced only to claim ownership.
“We were born here a long time ago and we schooled here at Mtomondoni Primary School knowing this is our home,” Mwachai said.
“It was until 1995 going to 2000 when we started seeing strangers coming with their private surveyors marking the land one by one, others were white men, some Arabs and that is when we were shocked to know that we are squatters on our own land,” added Mwachai.
According to Mwachai, 59, different people started coming to settle at Mtomondoni area and they were welcomed by the locals.
“We thought we had welcomed our people who we will live peacefully. We never knew that they were people who owned our land. It caught us unaware, but in 2000 the tycoons came and in the course of our investigations we found out that they had maps and lease agreements which were issued to them in 1908 with the colonial government,” he said.
Mtomondoni Primary School is among the largest in Kilifi County with a population of over 2700 pupils. The Secondary School has more than 1500 students and both are located on plot no 11 which has 68 acres.
The parcel of land has 16 tycoons who have subdivided the land in different acreages ranging to 6, 8 and ten acres per person.
Five years ago, the community filed a case in Court against two Arab ladies residing at King’orani in Mombasa who claimed the land.
Silvia Katana, a resident, said the community has become slaves of the tycoons because they are living on the land that they do not own.
“We are not free and comfortable since they are holding us hostage because a landowner can come at any time to claim what belongs to him at any time. We have the sale agreement but we do not have the title deed,” said Katana.
Shimo la Tewa MCA Sammy Ndago warned the tycoons against evicting the settlers and said the law that allows anyone who has stayed at a place for more than 10 years should not be disrupted will be enforced.
“A man shall die but the law will remain. My people of Mtomondoni have stayed here for more than 50 years, they have been in this area for more than 15 years and no one should evict them,” Ndago said.
He called upon The Land CS Faridah Karony and her Education Counterpart Amina Mohamed together with NLC Chair Mohamed Swazuri to move and address the matter urgently for the students to be assured of a better learning environment.