Inside the Sh600,000 debt that has left 10 dead

The Nakuru Law Courts. 

Photo credit: Joseph Openda | Nation Media Group

An unpaid balance of Sh600,000 for a controversial parcel of land purchased by a cooperative society is behind the deadly court battle that has left at least 10 people dead.

The Environment and Land Court in Nakuru heard that the two-decade legal battle between 450 members of the Nakuru Workers Cooperative Society and property agent Thuo Commercial Agencies emanated from a breach of contract.

Mr Maina Ndua, the director of the agency, told the court that an agreement between his father, George Thuo, and members of the society for the sale of a 63-acre parcel of land in Pipeline, Nakuru County, was not honoured, leading to the court battle.

Appearing before Justice John Mutungi, he said the sale agreement indicated the society was to pay Sh2.6 million to the company for the land in instalments.

But the society remained with a balance of Sh600,000 in the stipulated time, sparking the disagreement.

“My father and the defendants entered into a written sale agreement for the purchase of a 63-acre parcel of land. The society did not honour the agreement after failing to pay the debt of Sh600,000,” he said.

But he acknowledged that a survey was conducted, the land was subdivided and a deed plan was released by the lands office.

He said his father wrote to the commissioner of lands in 1996 to give the final approval for the subdivision of his 100 acres of land into two portions – one of 37 acres and the other of 63 acres.

“I am aware of the survey that was done where 63 acres of land was segregated. The company received all the other money apart from the Sh600,000,” Mr Ndua said.

He claimed the society decided to settle its members before clearing the balance, prompting the agency to move to court to seek their eviction.

In the case, Thuo Commercial Agencies accuses the society of illegally subdividing and settling its 422 members on the land.

He wants them evicted from the land.

In response, the society denied breaching the contract and accused the agency of dishonesty.

The court heard that after receiving Sh2 million, the agency refused to receive the balance on time in a ploy meant to get them to default on the payment.

The society claimed the vendor later disowned the sale agreement and moved to court in a bid to repossess the land. 

The case has dragged on in court for decades and the delay has proved disastrous.

As the case stalled, officials and members of the society were reported dying and disappearing mysteriously.

At least six officials were killed and four other members were reported to have disappeared in unclear circumstances.

Among the dead officials were company secretary David Gitau, 46, and Beth Wachie, who were shot multiple times by unknown people in Pipeline, Nakuru. The deaths in 2017 were linked to the land dispute.

Wellington Oduor, the treasurer of the group, was gunned down outside his house by unknown men in November 2016.

Others who died were Collins Ochieng, who was a secretary, Tom Theuri and Paul Njogu.