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Not moving an inch, says Kaputiei community after KDF land take-over

KDF soldiers supervising fencing at Sheep and Goats farm in Athi River on Wednesday last week.
KDF soldiers supervising fencing at Sheep and Goats farm in Athi River on Wednesday last week.
This is happening only one day after the Kenya Defence Forces on Wednesday physically moved and took over 1,500 acres of land from the demo farm on behalf of the Kenya Meat Commission.

The Kaputiei community leaders have vowed to disobey all government orders calling on them to vacate Athi River’s controversial Sheep and Goats’ demo farm.

This is happening only one day after the Kenya Defence Forces on Wednesday physically moved and took over 1,500 acres of land from the demo farm on behalf of the Kenya Meat Commission.

Led by Wilson Kisemei, Wilson Kirayian and William Kasio, the leaders from the Maasai community living on the border of Kajiado and Machakos counties accused President Uhuru Kenyatta, in particular, of taking the Kaputiei Maasai for a “ride” by dishing their land to government corporations.

“This land has a court case, it has an injunction that was issued at Machakos court barring all kinds of activities until and after a case between the Kenya Wildlife Service is determined and disposed of,” said Kisemei.

The Kaputiei community elders take to prayers after they were denied entry to KMC in Athi River where they wanted to address President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Kaputiei community elders take to prayers after they were denied entry to KMC in Athi River where they wanted to address President Uhuru Kenyatta last week.

The community sought court intervention after President Kenyatta early in the year handed over, through the ministry of lands, 2,000 acres of land to KWS for wildlife conservation purposes.

After the land that was hived out of what the community claimed it is their ancestral land, KDF while acting on behalf of KMC moved in on Wednesday to claim 500 acres from the same land saying it was handed over by the late former resident Daniel arap Moi in 1996.

The Defense Ministry on Wednesday said the KWS has since surrendered 1,000 acres of what president Kenyatta gave them in February.

Kisemei, who is the community’s land group secretary, on Thursday morning said – “It has become apparent that this government and the presidency do not respect court orders. We are staying put on this land until the last person standing up is brought down by this system.”

“We are not going anywhere, let the Jubilee government come and do away with us here,” added Kisemei.

In what it had what had appeared on Wednesday that it would have been a fierce duel between the Kaputiei community members and the KDF soldiers, the process of taking over the 1, 500 acres was executed with military precision.

What way forward - Mzee James Turere at the Sheep and Goats farm on Wednesday evening. Photo - KNU.
What way forward – Mzee James Turere at the Sheep and Goats farm on Wednesday evening. Photo – KNU.

The KDF side headed by Brigadier James Githaga, on behalf of KMC, swiftly moved into their 1, 500 acre land in the controversial Sheep and Goats’ demo land from 4.30 am.

The move took the Kaputiei Maasai community by surprise when they woke up to find the KDF men had even erected tented a tented camp to play the role of the command post.

In an exclusive interview with Brig. Githaga, the top KMC official from the Ministry of Defence said they will not use force to evict those alleged to have encroached into what belongs to the government parastatal but the existing laws.

“We cannot fight anyone who has encroached into government land but we will try to negotiate with them within the confines of the law. If they have genuine papers, it is ok, we shall recommend that they be compensated,” said Githaga.

Githaga said the KMC commission has taken off and the offtake demands that the government corporation has to acquire land for livestock lined up for slaughter.

He said the late former resident Daniel Arap Moi had around 1996 given KMC about 500 acres from the controversial land in Athi River.

“Recently, the Nairobi National Park in a mutual agreement gave KMC 1, 000 acres from the 2,000 acres handed to them by President Uhuru Kenyatta early in the year.

“We have now secured about 1, 500 acres of land, and we are going for another 412 acres which are in the hands of professional squatters and people calling themselves “Afya Sacco”,” said Githaga.

He did not mention anything about the Kaputiei community who had laid claim on the land.

The KDF official said he is doing his duty as one of the caretaker officers appointed by the President and is not out to fight with civilians over land.

Casual workers on the site fencing the land were protected by armed policemen as KDF officials presided over them.

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