The fight for a piece of land in Athi River took a twist on Monday when a group people went to the scene and claimed to own property destroyed by Deliverance Church.
Structures on the 300-acre land in Ngelani were demolished earlier yesterday by about 160 members of the church who were accompanied by security officers.
Athi River deputy county commissioner David Juma said the land belongs to the church and that titles are available.
More on this: Deliverance Church demolishes property on disputed Athi River land
A group of people arrived in several cars and motorcycles as the demolitions went on.
They accused the church members of invading their property and said they had valid documents showing they bought the land.
“The church members have gone beyond their portion and encroached on ours. They have destroyed our property which was worth millions of shillings,” one said, adding damages must be paid.
Deliverance Church members study a map of the disputed piece of land in Ngelani, Athi River, during demolitions on June 11, 2018. /GEORGE OWITI
Church spokesman Bishop William Tuimisiang insisted they were the legitimate owners of the property and that “grabbers” had prevented them from investing in it.
“Deliverance Church formed a men’s fellowship ministry which bought this parcel of land in 1993,” Tuimisiang said, noting he was one of the founders of the ministry.
Tuimisiang said they bought the land from British American Tobacco (BAT) at Sh30,000 per acre and that the total cost was Sh1 million.
“We sought the government’s assistance and protection after efforts to persuade the grabbers to move out bore no fruit,” he told reporters at the scene.
“So many grabbers have invaded our land. We approached relevant authorities and presented land ownership documents. That is why we are conducting these demolitions today.”
The church destroyed offices, houses, pit latrines, household goods, constructing and fencing materials and barbed wired fences.
“We have demolished all structures which do not belong to our members,” the Bishop said, adding each person had been assigned one to five acres.
Juma and Mlolongo Assistant County Commissioner David Mukung’ were at the scene during the demolitions.
He and Mukung’ intervened when the groups clashed and told them to form a 10-member committee, with five members from each side. The team will find out who the right owner is and shed more light on boundaries.
The administrators said the 10 people will face the security team at his office on Thursday with land ownership documents from the two sides.
“Those whose property was destroyed will be compensated if it is determined that it was not on the church’s land,” Juma said.
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