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DPP rejects Kiambu Mall owner’s request to reopen probe

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By JUSTUS WANGA
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Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji has rejected a request by Kiambu Mall owner Peter Burugu to reopen an investigation into a 16.7-acre tract in Runda, after the businessman failed to submit ownership evidence amid a vicious and complex battle for the prime property.

Mr Burugu filed a complaint with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in December 2019 claiming that he owns the land valued at over Sh3 billion and that another businessman, David Kimani, had invaded the property.

Mr Burugu claims that he bought into a company, Jumchem Ltd, previously owned by Juma Muchemi, and that the company he acquired owned the land.

But Mr Haji’s office has now faulted Mr Burugu for failing to submit the originals of his ownership documents, making it difficult to investigate their authenticity.

The DPP’s office noted that the target of the complaint, Mr Kimani, had submitted his ownership documents for verification, and concluded that Mr Burugu’s request lacks good faith.

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“We note that the said complainant (Mr Burugu) was requested to (provide) his title documents of ownership but failed to do so even as you forwarded the file to us. He mentions one David Kimani who claimed ownership of the same land and who produced his ownership documents.”

“Good faith is clearly lacking on the part of the complainant and there is therefore no basis for reopening this inquiry file. It is also not clear why the complainant waited five years to make his complaint,” the DPP’s office said in a letter to the DCI.

Detectives looking into Mr Burugu’s complaint found that Companies Registry records do not show a change of directorship in Jumchem Healthcare Ltd and hence there is no proof that the Kiambu Mall owner bought Mr Muchemi’s company.

The DCI also uncovered that Mr Kimani has been paying land rates to City Hall and that there are no arrears on the property.

Ministry of Lands records seen by the DCI also show Mr Kimani owns the land.

Officials also told detectives that the ownership documents claimed by Mr Burugu to be legitimate do not exist in the Ministry of Lands records.

Mr Kimani has sued the other parties still claiming ownership of the property — Mr Burugu, former banker Francis Nganga and his wife.

Mr Kimani argues that he bought the land from Zena Grace Lindsey for Sh20 million in February 2000.

The sale and transfer documents indicate that Ms Lindsey bought the land from Basil Mitton George in 1991. Mr George had bought the land from St Benoist Plantation in 1950.

The money was paid in three instalments and he says he has lived on the land with his family since, unaware that there was a protracted battle between other parties over the same property.

While the land’s ownership trail to St Benoist is available in the Kenya Gazette, the Ngangas and Mr Burugu claim that it was first registered by the Ministry of Lands in 1977 to Williams & Kennedy Ltd.
The DCI initially looked into the land’s ownership in 2015 when three separate parties claimed ownership of the land.

On one side was former banker Francis Nganga and his wife. On the other side was Juma Muchemi, whose claim was inherited by Mr Burugu. The third side had Regina Nyokabi and Peter Maina Ndegwa.

At the time detectives found that Ms Nyokabi and Mr Ndegwa had forged documents related to the land. The two were charged in court for forgery in 2018.

This left Mr Nganga, Mr Muchemi and Mr Burugu in the fight.

The Ngangas claim that they bought all shares in Williams & Kennedy Ltd in 1983 which gave them ownership of the company’s assets, including the Runda land.

Detectives probing the matter however say that government records indicate that Williams & Kennedy was wound up in 1973.

Court records indicate that Mr Nganga duped the collapsed Rural Urban Credit Finance Ltd and Postbank Credit Ltd, in 1983 and 1992 respectively, into issuing him loans with the Runda land as security.

But Mr Nganga never submitted the title deeds to either of the lenders for formal registration.

Postbank Credit, through the Deposit Protection Fund, pursued Mr Nganga who then sued to stop sale of the land.

In 1993 Mr Nganga tried to sell the land to Juma Muchemi’s Jumchem but the deal fell through. Mr Muchemi then approached the DPF, which had taken over Postbank Credit’s operations and managed to pay for the prime property.

Mr Nganga sued Postbank Credit, the DPF and Mr Muchemi to reverse the sale. While the battle was still going on, Mr Muchemi sold his Jumchem Ltd to Mr Burugu, who inherited the court battle as well. Mr Muchemi died in 2018. The DCI file was closed in 2018 as the courts continued to hear the civil cases.

Last year, Mr Burugu sued Mr Burugu and the Ngangas claiming that he and his family risked eviction to the land they have called home since February, 2000.

On December 3, 2019 Mr Burugu filed a fresh complaint with the DCI, this time against Mr Kimani, while requesting that the inquiry file be reopened.

Detectives, in their correspondence with Mr Haji’s office, revealed that Mr Burugu only supplied photocopies of ownership documents, which made it hard to probe authenticity.

“He provided photocopies … It was not possible to investigate these documents as Peter Mburu Burugu refused to comment on the source of his documents neither did he state where the originals of his documents are,” the DCI said in its report.

Additional reporting by Brian Wasuna

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