Confusion, anger and helplessness were written all over Mary Akoyo’s face yesterday.
The single mother and her five children were stranded after bulldozers demolished their Nyama Villa estate home in Kayole.
The 35-year-old woman and the children — the youngest aged two and oldest 15 — were woken up by huge bang on the door at 6am.
“When I opened the door, I found many police officers and youths wearing green reflector jackets. Before I could speak, the youths forced their way into the house and started looting and throwing out my belongings,” Akoyo said amid tears.
“I don’t know where I am going to take my children. We don’t have anything. Clothes, food and everything we had have been destroyed and others looted. Is this the government we elected?” she asked.
Akoyo said she pleaded with the officers to give her even 30 minutes to save her items but all her pleas fell on deaf ears.
Next to Akoyo was Halima Abdi and her three children. Halima was breastfeeding her three-month-old baby when a neighbour knocked on her door and told her about what was happening.
“It is just yesterday that I paid Sh12,000 rent because I know in January, I will be away in the village,” the weak and visibly exhausted Halima said.
Akoyo and Halima are among the more than 5,000 residents of Nyama Villa estate who are likely to mark Christmas in the cold.
A private developer claimed ownership of the more than 200 acres where the estate stands.
Chief Julius Wanjau, the officer in charge of the demolitions, said the land belongs to Marble Arch Hotel proprietor only identified as Maina.
“The owner has a court order and he is the one who has hired the officers and the bulldozers to demolish those structures. It is not the work of the Nairobi Regeneration Committee,” Wanjau said.
Area MP Benjamin Gathiru, who was arrested as he attempted to stop the demolitions, told the Star at Kayole police station that the developer produced a title deed for the 200 acres.
He also confirmed that Maina had obtained a court order allowing him to repossess the parcel, but condemned the manner in which the demolitions were carried out without a notice.
A manager at Marble Arch Hotel, who only identified himself as Jack, declined to comment on the matter, saying the hotel had nothing to do with the demolitions.
There was no eviction notice or a court order pinned on the walls to alert the residents. A police officer on the ground said Kayole police station OCPD Joseph Gichangi was in possession of the order.
Gichangi did not respond to phone calls and messages seeking his comment on the incident.
“I have seen a court order saying this is his land but it does not talk about demolitions. The order says he is the sole proprietor of the land and he has a title and I don’t know if the title is valid,” the MP said.
“This is an estate that mostly has between four and five floor residential apartments. So, more than 5,000 people have been displaced. There is humanitarian crisis,” he said.
County Land executive Charles Kerich did not return our calls, while chief officer Stephen Mwangi said the demolitions were not carried out by the county government.
The residents woke up to a rude shock. Tens of armed officers and hundreds of youths with assorted tools woke them up. Five bulldozers had started pulling down the structures.
Confused by the turn of events, some residents struggled to save their items in panic. Some threw furniture and other belongings from as high as third and fourth floors.
Some youths took advantage of the confusion to loot valuables. Tenants in some of the apartments had already travelled upcountry for Christmas and New Year holidays. Their homes were not spared.
Area DC Evans Manduri’s three apartments were among those pulled down. Owners of salons, market vendors, gas shops and general shops are also counting losses as their merchandise was destroyed.
Most of them operated their shops on the ground of the apartments. Jackson Wachira, a hawker, cried aloud saying that he had spent over Sh30 million building a four-storey residential building.
Nairobi woman representative Esther Passaris visited the site and condemned the evictions.