Puzzle of 30 churches built on 'grabbed' school land

Ithanga/Kakuzi DCC Makau

Ithanga/Kakuzi Sub-County Commissioner Angela Makau in her office on November 23, 2022. She said the government is investigating how more than 30 churches occupied a 14 acre piece of school land in Ngelelya town.

Photo credit: Mwangi Muiruri I Nation Media Group

More than 30 churches are being investigated for setting up structures on 14 acres of school land in Ngelelya, Ithanga/Kakuzi sub-county.

Some of the Christian churches are suspected by security agencies of preaching cultism.

"The absurdity is that some of these churches are less than 20 metres apart and they all worship on Sundays. You can imagine the noise, as all have public address systems," said area Deputy County Commissioner Angela Makau.

She added that some of the churches have less than 10 followers and they compete for worshippers like matatu touts.

"It is routine to see some of the church leaders trying to divert worshippers to attend their churches. We do not even know what some of the churches preach,” Ms Makau said. 

She said the government has invited the National Land Commission (NLC), county land registrar and surveyors to help ascertain whether the land was grabbed.

"They are occupying land suspected to belong to Thungururu Primary and Secondary schools. [We want to verify whether] the land belongs to the schools but we are sensitive not to be seen as if we are fighting the churches," she said.

Allotment letter

She added that the schools have an allotment letter indicating they are the owners of the land "and all the churches do not have any document to prove ownership".

Pastor Martin Kitute of the End of Times Awareness Church said "we have been told that we are being investigated and we are open to scrutiny".

He said "if called upon to prove how we set base here, we will do so with grace and justify our existence".

He added that "everyone can speak for themselves ... This is a settlement scheme and both the school and the churches are public and that is why the land is for us all".

But Ms Makau said security agents will act once a multi-agency team files its report on the rightful owners of the land.

"The moment we are armed with the truth about ownership of this land, we will not hesitate to kick out squatters, even if they are churches. The rule of law is supreme over other considerations," she said.

If the report says the churches own the land, "then we will bring in the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to regulate the noise they emit.

"You can imagine the crisis that emerges in the air when 30 public address systems compete in the air,” she said. 

“Worshippers in 30 different churches close to each other singing different songs, saying different prayers and speaking in tongues without any uniformity – it is simply maddening."

She claimed that area residents have developed the habit of speaking in loud voices because of the effect of the noise from the churches on Sundays.

"Even on the other six days of the week, they still believe they have to speak loudly to get heard and this is dangerous," she said.

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