Machakos court ruled developer trespassed on Mwau’s property
Residents of the Tamarind Meadows are facing millions in losses after being ordered to vacate a 17-acre land in which their houses are built.
The multi-million shilling Tamarind Meadows estate in Athi River is facing imminent demolition after a Machakos court ruled the property sits on someone else’s land.
A developer built 69 three-bedroom units in the land which sold for between Sh6.5 million and Sh8.5 million.
In a ruling delivered on April 24, the Environment and Land Court ordered the owners of Tamarind Meadows to vacate the 17-acre parcel of land within 60 days, failing which they will be forcibly evicted.
The court found that Tamarind Meadows Ltd was conned when it bought the land in 2008 as the seller, Volta Insurance Consultants Ltd, was not the real owner of the property and held a fake title deed.
“An order is hereby issued directed at (Tamarind Meadows Ltd), its directors, shareholders, members associates, agents, employees and any person claiming through them, compelling them to vacate (Novicome Ltd’s) parcel of land ….within 60 days of this Judgment,” Justice Oscar Angote ruled.
The court ordered the Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) and the Divisional Criminal Investigations Officer (DCIO) Athi River “to provide assistance in the evictions should (Tamarind Meadows Ltd) fail to vacate the suit property within 60 days of the date of this Judgment”.
The landownership row pitting Wibeso Investment Ltd and Novicome Ltd vs. Tamarind Meadows Ltd dates back to December 2009 when Novicome – which is owned by former Kilome MP John Harun Mwau – learnt that some unknown persons were putting up structures on the land.
After enquiries, the company found the defendant – Tamarind Meadows – had used the land to secure a loan from Savings & Loan (K) Limited, then a mortgage lending subsidiary of KCB. They reported the matter to the police – marking the start of a lengthy battle to reclaim the property.
In its defence, Tamarind Meadows argued that it acquired the land from Volta Insurance Consultants for Sh51 million, completed the transfer of the title deed on August 29, 2008, and used the document to secure a Sh172 million loan from S&L to set up a residential estate on the property.
The plan was to build 397 houses in two phases. Despite the landownership issues, the developer went ahead and built 69 three-bedroom units, which were sold for between Sh6.5 million and Sh8.5 million.
Trouble erupted in 2010 when the chief land registrar declined to issue subleases in favour of the buyers of houses completed in phase one of the project on the grounds that there was another title registered to Wibeso Investments, which had transferred the land to Novicome Ltd.
This prompted the developer to seek a meeting with Mr Mwau and then minister James Orengo to try and resolve the matter. The court heard that Mr Mwau declined to accept alternative pieces of land he was offered between 2011 and 2013 forcing the parties to move to court.
Investigations at the companies’ registry revealed that Volta Insurance was incorporated in 1989 under a different name and later renamed to Volta Insurance Consultants Ltd.
In 2008, one Francis Mwirigi Mbogori sold the company for Sh50,000, without any assets, to Francis Mwirigi Muguna, Michael Leboin Nene and Saul Tuka Chemus who then sold land to Tamarind Meadows.
Justice Angote observed the new owners of Volta Insurance acquired the company with the intention of using the entity to engage in an illegal land transaction.
“I am convinced that the persons who bought Volta Insurance Consultants Ltd in the year 2007/2008, bought it with the intentions of using the said company to create a non-existent and a fake title. Volta Insurance Consultants Limited did not own any land in the year 2002 or at all,” he said.
“In the circumstances, based on the foregoing, and considering the suit land is 17 acres, and (Tamarind Meadows Ltd) having denied (Novicome Ltd) the use of the land since the year 2008, I grant (Novicome) damages for trespass of Sh3,000,000 as against (Tamarind),” the judge ruled.
Tamarind Meadows Ltd has in the past undertaken several notable projects in Nairobi, including Tamarind Valley in Utawala; Tamarind Court in Kileleshwa, Tamarind Gardens in Lavington, and Evergreen Court in Kileleshwa – all of which have been sold out.
The company is now building Nakuru Meadows, whose units are selling for between Sh12.5 million and Sh14.9 million.