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Tension High As Two Assailants Are Stoned To Death While Torching Houses.

Mutua and his wife narrating to the press what happened on the fateful night
Two people were stoned to death and several others feared to have been severely injured in clashes involving an escalating land dispute between people living in Kuoka Farm and a private developer said to have bought the land situated at the border point of Murang’a and Machakos counties.

According to the those residing in the farm, fighting erupted when a group of about 40 armed men believed to have been sent by the alleged owner of the land, Mr. Fred Kirubi, struck at around 1am on Tuesday Morning. They attacked them while accusing them of refusing to vacate from private land.

The attack that saw several houses torched using home-made petrol bombs, resulted in loss of property worth hundreds of thousands of shillings.

The attackers are said to have first broken into the house of 71 year-old Mutua Kioko, beating him up and then burning his house and granary before dividing themselves into several groups that did the same to several other homesteads. This prompted the inhabitants to raise alarm to alert a neighbouring village which lies in the Machakos side of the boundary as the younger men attempted to fight back to repulse their attackers.

“At around 1am this morning, I was woken by a loud bang from my door with some voices demanding that I come out from my house. They told me to say my last prayers as they had come to kill me. They told me that I and another elderly neighbour of mine were their targets for according to them, I was the source of all these land problems,” said Mutua.

His wife and granddaughter managed to sneak out of the house and vanish into the darkness before the assailants threw a petrol bomb into Mutua’s living room. He claims that he dashed into the bedroom before getting his chance to dash out of the house.

Mutua claims that due to his age, he was unable to run far before they caught up with him. They beat him up and warned that his efforts were fruitless as they had been sent to kill him.

His house was completely destroyed by fire that consumed all his property.

Tuesday’s attack was the second one in a span of one month though in the first incidents, it was not as serious as this last one.

40-year old Peter Kimani who claims to have been born brought up in the disputed land, claims that when the victims raised alarm, the villagers plus those from the neighbouring villages responded quickly and retaliated by fighting back. Shortly the assailants were cornered and in the process, two of them were stoned to death by the mob.

It is believed that several others may have escaped with arrow injuries.
One of the houses that were torched.

The villagers alleged that one of the deceased was very well known to them as he worked as a watchman in the neighbouring farm that was also owned by their adversary Mr. Fred.

Police from the nearby police post on the Machakos side were called in to collect the bodies and initiate investigations, a matter they handed over to the Makuyu Police division.

According to these people, there has been a long standing dispute between them and the said owner after they had previously attempted to bail out the original owner who was about to have the land auctioned due to an outstanding loan arrears.

It is said that they lost part of their contributions to a rogue lawyer and before they knew it Fred bought the land through a public auction. This was the beginning of the genesis of the dispute that has now escalated into violence is alleged that when these group of people failed to clear their part of the bargain, Fred negotiated with the land owner.

“I have lived here for most of my life, formerly as an employee of the original owner Mr. Daudi Mwaura before he leased this land to another person who took a loan with the land as assurity. When he failed to pay, we signed an agreement with him that we raise the cash to clear this debt in return for shares in the ownership of the land. Unfortunately, the lawyer who was handling the issue ran away with our contributions, thwarting our efforts to fully own the land,” said Mutua.

The dispute of the 34-Acres parcel that is in Makuyu Constituency of the Murang’a County and predominantly inhabited by a particular ethnic community, now seems to be taking a political and ethnical angle and if action is not taken fast to resolve the issue, it is feared that it might escalate into an inter-ethnic clashes in the near future.

These people claim that the land is in Machakos County but records show that it has been registered in Murang’a County. They are said to be casting votes from the neighbouring village which is in Machakos, a factor that is currently fueling some political and ethnical incitement from their neighbours.

Efforts to reach Fred Kirubi to get his side of the story were fruitless as he kept on promising to meet us till it was too late in the evening. We weren’t able to get the comments of the OCPD Makuyu as he was said to be engaged in other official commitments. The DCC Kenol Samuel K. Njora could not respond as he was still waiting for police report on the matter.

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