The community is opposed to the president’s move to issue a community land’s title deed to the Kenya Wildlife Services
The Empakasi land saga, within Mavoko sub-county, is back in the courts, again. This time, members of the Kaputiei community, who claim ownership of the land, are accusing President Uhuru Kenyatta and the government of not obeying court orders.
Through McKay & Co. Advocates and Okiya Omtatah Okoiti as co-petitioners, the community moved to court seeking the recognition of the community as the owners of the land known as Sheep and Goats Ltd. They also sought orders barring the government from entering or purporting to take possession of the land.
In October 2020, the High Court in Machakos issued interim orders barring the government from entering or purporting to fence off the land.
In a press statement, the Kaputiei Maasai of Empakasi claim proprietary rights to the Sheep & Goats Land having been their traditional grazing ground since time immemorial. The land was part of the former Empakasi Group Ranch owned by the Kaputiei Maasai of Empakasi.
“The court orders notwithstanding, in November 2020, the government proceeded to place eviction orders requiring the Empakasi Community to move out of the land and commenced the fencing of the land,” said the statement. “In addition, President Uhuru Kenyatta, in an elaborate public event, purported to issue a title deed for the land in favour of the KWS.”
The community now says fencing off of the Sheep & Goats Land will result in the cordoning off of Empakasi Primary School which is right in the middle of the land thereby rendering it unsafe for school-going children. “In addition, members of the community, who will be evicted from the homes they have built on the land, will not have access to community investments such as boreholes, earth dams and cattle dips that they built on the land,” adds the statement.
According to Jonathan ole Lila, the chairman, when the court matter came up for hearing on Tuesday January 19, 2021, the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, the National Treasury, the National Land Commission, the Attorney General, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the County Government of Machakos, the Kenya Meat Commission and Afya Sacco, who are all respondents in the petition, failed to appear in court and also failed to file their responses to the petition.
They have now asked the court to cite the responsible public officers for contempt of court and to cancel the title deed issued by the President in favour of the KWS.
The matter will now be back in court on February 24, 2021 when the contempt of court application will be heard.