The family of former spy chief James Kanyotu has petitioned the construction sector regulator through the High Court to demolish multi-million shilling homes and apartments that are being built on a disputed Sh10 billion land in Thika.
Willy Kihara Kanyotu, son of the late boss of the Special Branch (now known as the National Intelligence Service), wants the National Construction Authority (NCA) to be compelled to demolish homes that are coming up on the prime 500-acre parcel of land in Thika, arguing that their construction is in breach of law.
Documents attached to the court filings show that the land has since been subdivided into more than 1,000 plots and sold.
The Environment and Land Court in Thika had issued orders stopping further development on the disputed land, pending conclusion of a suit between the Kanyotu family and a firm known as Marriot Africa International Limited.
Mr Kanyotu reckons that NCA has continued to approve the construction of homes, business centres and apartments on the property in breach of the court order.
“That NCA should investigate how the construction permits were issued because buildings are coming up without necessary approvals yet there are orders prohibiting any dealing with the land until the matter is heard and determined,” Mr Kihara says in letters attached to court documents.
The NCA approves construction projects valued above Sh5 million, a pointer to the size of properties that the Kanyotu family is seeking to be demolished in the Thika property, which court documents say are valued at Sh10 billion. In the case, the family said the public would likely be duped and conned on the availability of the land.
Mr Kanyotu said there is evidence of construction going on by some purchasers. A company known as Marriot Africa International Limited, which claims ownership of the land, says it bought the property in 2012 from Trendsetters Investments Ltd.
The company has named Margaret Nyakinyua Murigu, Mary Wanjiku Kanyotu, Mr Kihara and Kangaita Cofee Estate as respondents in the case.
The land, measuring approximately 205 hectares is registered in the name of Kangaita Coffee Estate Ltd, which is also subject of another suit where the Kanyotu family is locked in an inheritance suit.
Mr Kanyotu died in 2008 without leaving a will, triggering a family court fight for control of his estate estimated to be worth Sh20 billion. One of his widows, Margaret Murigu, has disputed an alleged sale agreement between Kangaita Coffee Estate Ltd and Trendsetters. It is claimed that the land was sold to Trendsetters for Sh700 million.
Ms Murigu, one of the administrators of the estate, said the land is subject to the succession case and no court order was sought for the land to be sold.
“That it is trite knowledge that the estate has its accounts into which proceeds from the sale of any property belonging to the estate ought to be deposited. No amounts were deposited into any of these accounts for distribution to the beneficiaries or settlement of estate debts,” Ms Murigu said.
She said that three judges- Justices Luka Kimaru, George Dulu and David Maraga (current Chief Justice) – had issued orders prohibiting any dealings or sale of the estate property unless through a court order.
“That the family of the late James Kanyotu did not approve any of the sales and or transfers and the same have been done illegally under the nose of this honourable court,” she said.
She further said that the buyer cannot purport to be an innocent purchaser and therefore stop the court from cancelling what was an illegally obtained title. That in November 29, 2014, and May 31, 2019, the family published in the local dailies a caveat warning buyers against illegal purchase of the estate’s property. The adverts were meant to secure the estate from wastage.
But Marriot Africa International Ltd said the adverts were fraudulent and misleading as it purchased the land from Trendsetters Investments Ltd and is the legal owner.
The last time the parties appeared before the Environment and Land Court in Thika, the court extended orders stopping any further transfers and sale and the deputy registrar of the court was to do a site visit in November. The court also ordered that the case to be mentioned on January 20, 2020.
Ms Murigu later urged the court to issue orders to evict the buyers and demolish all the structures, with the assistance of Ruiru police.
She has also attached a list of 83 titles, which were issued between 2014 and 2019 for cancellation, saying they were registered in contravention of a court order.