Nancy Wanja Gatabaki, the widow of a former Kiambu tycoon the late Samuel Mundati Gatabaki is embroiled in a court battle with the Nairobi county government to block the devolved unit from demolishing her businesses located at the multi-billion Fourways Junction Estate on Kiambu Road.
Wanja and her daughters; Beatrice Gathoni and Susan Wangari have lodged a constitutional petition to quash an enforcement notice from the county.
The three are the administrators of the vast estate of the late patriarch.
She moved to the Judicial Review Division of the High Court after the county Directorate of Planning Compliance and Enforcement served her with a notice on October 16, 2023 directing her to demolish the businesses which include a petrol station and a car bazaar and vacate the premises with immediate effect.
However, Wanja says in the petition that the contested land has been part of her residence since 1971 and the notice was served upon them yet there was an active case pending in court on the ownership of the property.
She termed the quit notice as abusive, oppressive and vexatious, adding that there was every need to prevent an abuse of the process of the court.
City Hall claims the businesses stand on a disputed public land.
But the Gatabaki family has opposed the county government’s acquisition of the disputed public utility land which she claims does not exist both on the ground and at the Chief Land Registrar’s office.
According to the widow, the utility land reference 5980/1 that the county was demanding “is another fraudulent parcel which was allegedly created from the questionable land reference 28223 and is a matter before the National Land Commission (NLC).”
Through lawyer Gatheru Gathemia, Wanja said the planed eviction of the family and the demolition of all permanent and semi-permanent structures including a petrol station, a car bazaar, wines and spirits shop, a car wash and a garage would prejudice them and cause irreparable harm.
According to Wanja, the land has been their residence since they lawfully acquired it from Alexander Lowis and Patricia Lowis for valuable consideration vide the deed of an indenture dated April 22, 1971.
She further stated that she has paid land rates from 1971 when the couple acquired the land measuring 206.5 acres and challenged the county government chief valuer to prove her wrong.
They want the court to grant them permission to apply for orders to challenge the notice as administrators of the estate.
Wanja said in a sworn affidavit that there was a pending litigation before the Environment and Land Court as rival pleadings had been filed in court and exchanged between the parties.
She argued that the notice was a clear scheme to unlawfully evict them from the land and demolish their assets without giving them the benefit of being heard in a judicial process.
Wanja revealed that the land dispute concerns LR. No. 5980/1, 5980/2 5980/3, and 5980/4, which are illegal subdivisions implemented on L.R 5980 4805/1 and which are in the process of being cancelled by the Chief Land Registrar and the Director of Surveys.
She said LR 5980/1 and 5980/3 were illegally amalgamated with LR 4508/1 to create a new LR No. 28223 LR and multiple other subsequent subdivisions. The illegal amalgamations are subject of litigation in the ongoing case, she added.
“The ex-parte applicants (Gatabakis’s) are the lawful proprietors of L.R 5980 and have produced in the Environment and Land Court an indefeasible title over all that parcel of land Number LR. No. 5980 and LR 4805/1 as bonafide purchasers for value,” she said.
The family stated that the registration of the illegal subdivision and amalgamation was confirmed by the Chief Land Registrar in a letter on April 4, 2023.
“Therefore, the decision by the county government to evict us is tainted with illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety,” said the widow