Gicheha Farm evictees to file petition in Parliament
Thousands of families evicted from the controversial Gicheha Farm in Taveta five years ago are set to lodge a petition in the National Assembly.
In March 2018, over 1,000 families were evicted from the 2,300-acre property, which is owned by the Kenyatta family.
In a petition to be filed through their MP John Bwire, they claim that they had lived on the land since 1974 and in 1985 the government assured them they would be issued with title deeds.
The squatters accuse Gicheha Farm, the Taveta Land Adjudication Officer and the National Police Service of illegal evictions and destruction of their property. They note that the eviction, which saw one person allegedly shot by the police, was a case of historical land injustice.
The middle-aged man succumbed to gunshot injuries during the clashes between the squatters and police. The squatters were protesting the demarcation exercise on the farm and attacked police with arrows.
“During the forceful eviction one person was killed by a police officer, and the matter was reported to Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) but to date, no action has been taken,” the petition states.
The farm initially belonged to a white settler, Sir Ramson—it was a reward from the colonial government. Gicheha Farm which owns over 30,000 acres of land in the area, is said to have acquired it from Sir Ramson.
In 2012, Gicheha allocated 2,000 acres of land to settle over 800 squatters to pave way for the area to be utilised. Those who were left out of the allocation were kicked out despite protests from a section of local leaders and a court order.
The squatters said the allocation was carried out irregularly and denied them access to the Tsavo river and springs that supply them with water for their domestic and farm use.
“We relied on Sir Ramson land for cultivation, grazing and fuel wood collection under the plantation establishment and livelihood improvement scheme until 2018 when the owners of Gicheha Farm forcefully evicted us, demolished our houses and fenced the entire land with an electric fence, including the Tsavo river, which was our only source of clean water for drinking and irrigation,” the petition states.
They are seeking compensation for those whose properties were destroyed during the eviction. Up to date, the petitioners said, some squatters have nowhere to call homes.
“We have now been rendered destitute, resorting to working as casuals at Gicheha Farm when we used to farm our land and fend for ourselves,” the squatters say. The petitioners also accuse some land officers in the area of allocating themselves parcels of the donated.
“We have evidence of double allocations and also foreign people from as far as Nairobi and Central Kenya benefiting and genuine squatters have, until now, nowhere to call home,” they say.
They want the National Assembly to direct the National Land Commission to investigate the historical land injustice. They also want the House to declare illegal the move by Gicheha to fence off the river.
Further, the petitioners want an audit of the allocation of the 2,000-acre land donated by Gicheha Farm over allegations of double and irregular allocations.
The squatter’s representative, Japhet Mbote said the petition, signed by over 1,000 of them, will be presented to the National Assembly today.