Fashion & Lifestyle

Somalia ghosts: Plight of Njoro family living with traumatized KDF soldier

A family in Njoro has accused the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) of neglecting their depressed 30-year-old son battling mental illness after deployment in Somalia.

Second Lieutenant John Njoroge, (pictured), joined KDF after graduating with a Military Science degree and commissioned as an officer at the Kenya Military Academy, Lanet in 2014.

According to his mother Joyce Wangari, Njoroge, who scored an A- in his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination, brought a ray of hope to the family after he joined the military.

“Whenever he came home after commissioning, he showed commitment to serve in the military. He provided financial support to the entire family and his own,” she said.

According to documents seen by The Standard, Njoroge was among the Kenyan troops deployed to Somalia between December 2016 and January 2018 under the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM)

Then the attack on Kenyan soldiers by the Al Shabaab at Kulbiyow camp happened, and Njoroge was never the same again.

The second lieutenant was among the survivors of the January 27, 2017 attack that left at least 68 of his colleagues dead and scores injured.

The family noticed something was wrong as soon as Njoroge returned home.

“He was well until after that attack. When he came back home from the deployment, we started noticing a change in behaviour. He would fight with anyone, including me, and later apologise,” said Njoroge’s father Peter Mwangi.

After his return from the Somalia assignment, Njoroge was attached to the 20th Parachute Battalion based at the Kenyatta Barracks in Gilgil.

In October last year, he went home and informed his family that he had been given a three-month leave and would report back to work in January 2019. It was then that the family realised he had changed.

“When he arrived home he was calm. The next morning, he broke 12 glass windows of a house he built for us. He threatened to kill his wife with whom he had one child. His wife left with the child,” said his father.

The family reported the matter at Njoro Police Station, where he was referred to the Military Police, who picked Njoroge and took him back to Kenyatta barracks.

“We were promised that he would be taken to Defence Forces Memorial Hospital. Days later, he informed us he had been transferred to Embakasi barracks. We thought this meant he had recovered,” said his mother.

The family was wrong. Months later, a friend spotted Njoroge wandering on Nairobi’s streets looking confused and lost. He was wearing one shoe.

The friend called Njoroge’s parents, who asked that he be taken to Nakuru, from where they picked him.

“I took him back to Gilgil barracks and was promised he would be taken care of. Days later he showed up at home in his own car,” said his father.

But all was not well. On arrival, Njoroge stormed his elder sister’s eatery and splashed boiling cooking oil on her. His sister escaped unhurt.

Njoroge’s mother Joyce Wangari.

In March this year, Njoroge, whose bouts of anger have continued to worsen, stabbed his brother twice in the abdomen, nearly killing him. The family then reported the matter to the military in a letter dated March 30. Their son had become a danger to them and to himself.

“Our son’s condition has been worsening. He has become alcoholic and violent towards anyone he comes across. We are now mentally tortured,” the letter read.

The family has called on KDF to take Njoroge and rehabilitate him, saying it gave the Government a healthy son but got back a broken man.

When reached for comment, the Department of Defence (DoD) said that Njoroge’s contract with the military was terminated before his condition worsened.

No longer serving

“Second Lieutenant (Rtd) John Njoroge Mwangi is no longer serving in the Kenya Defence Forces. His Commission was terminated in August 2018 on disciplinary grounds. During his time in service, he did not exhibit any signs of psychological disturbance,” read part of the response from DoD.

His parents, however, say they are not aware that their son has been fired.

“You are the first person to tell us that our son was fired. Why didn’t the military inform us? If he was fired, that could have even worsened his condition,” said his father.

Asked whether there was any plan to assist the family, the DoD responded: “Second Lt (Rtd) Mwangi is no longer serving in KDF.”

Transgender activist Audrey Mbugua gets updated KCSE certificate

Transgender activist Audrey Ithibu Mbugua has been issued with a new Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) examination certificate.

This is after the high court ruled in favour of Audrey’s bid to have her named changed from Andrew Mbugua to Audrey Mbugua.

The Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) however challenged the ruling at the court of appeal, which however upheld the decision.

Audrey took to social media on Monday to share her joy of finally getting the academic paper capturing her new gender identity.

“I am happy KNEC complied with the orders of the court and issued me with a new certificate. I urge other transgender people who have changed their names to apply for new certificates. I thank all those who supported me and my transgender family. You chose the side of winners and you definitely chose justice,” she posted on facebook.”


Audrey, was born and raised as Andrew Ithibu Mbugua and during his secondary education, he attended Kiambu High School, a boys only school, where he sat his KCSE exam in 2001 and scored a mean grade of A- (minus).

Like other certificates, Ms Mbugua’s was inscribed with the mark ‘M’ denoting the male gender. The mark has now been changed to ‘I’ to signify intersex.

In January 2012, by gazette notice, she renounced the name Andrew and assumed ‘Audrey Ithibu Mbugua’.

She then requested Knec to effect the changes in her exam certificate but the council dismissed her request forcing her to move to court.

High court Justice Weldon Korir ruled in her favour but in opposing the ruling at the appellate court, Knec argued that the certificate was issued based on the registration particulars “under which he registered for the examination”.

The appellate court went ahead and upheld the high court decision, compelling Knec to change her academic certificate to reflect ‘her’ new identity.

In August, the national census exercise included the intersex persons, making Kenya the first country in Africa to recognize her intersex population.

Senator Loitiptip denies impregnating woman, threatening her life

Lamu Senator Anwar Loitiptip has denied claims of impregnating a woman before abandoning and threatening to kill her.

This is after Hanifa Were, flanked by the Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri), gave a presser on Sunday 15 September laying bare her alleged relationship with the senator who is currently dating Saumu Mbuvi, Governor Mike Sonko’s daughter.

According to Hanifa, they met through Facebook, with the senator offering her money.

“He texted me on (Facebook) messenger. I was hesitant when he introduced himself as a senator. I did not even know there was a senator by that name but after exchanging contacts we got to video chat and that’s when I confirmed it was him,” she said.

The day after, Loitiptip offered Hanifa money as she took her daughter back to school in Nairobi, professing his love for her.

While in Nairobi, Hanifa claims that she spent the night at the senator’s home near Thika Road Mall, marking the beginning of her alleged relationship with the senator.

Silent treatment

During her stay at his home, Loitiptip called her from work saying that he would not be returning home as he had an urgent meeting to attend in Kisumu. Reading deception in his explanation, Hanifa opted to return to Mombasa with the promise that the senator would call after his trip. Communication never came.  

Hanifa Were.

After three weeks with no communication, Hanifa felt unwell and took a test that revealed she was pregnant.

“When I informed him, he became hostile towards me but I decided to keep my baby.”

Pregnancy, Saumu relationship

Later in June, Hanifa came across reports that Loitiptip and Saumu Mbuvi had been attacked after leaving a night club.

“I was shocked when I say him on TV saying Saumu was his fiancé as he had told me he was single,” she said.

Threatening messages, being trailed

Hanifa claims that the senator then started sending her messages on Facebook, warning her to stay away from his family. According to Loitiptip, the move was aimed at fending off a woman out to ruin his family.

Hanifa further claimed that thrice, she spotted people close to Loitiptip outside her house, prompting her to report the matter at Kadzandani Police Station in Kisauni under OB number 30 of 14/9/19.

“This is the man who has been following me. I fear for my life. I am afraid of Anwar. He is not a good person,” she said, showing journalists photos of a man she had allegedly spotted outside her house standing behind the senator.

Loitiptip’s response

Speaking to the press on September 15Loitiptip denied the allegations, saying that Hanifa is forcing things between them.

“I had an affair with this woman which did not last more than a week. Why is she forcing love? It’s been six months since we left each other. Why would she come out now?”

“Why would I want to kill her? Should I be dealing with my fellow politicians or a woman? She should stop forcing things.”

Police have since launched investigations into the claims.

Sonko Steps in After Consolata Boy’s Foul Comments Go Viral

For the better part of Sunday, September 15, evening and Monday, Kenyans on social media were dumbfounded by the shocking contents of a video published by a pupil at the Consolata School.

The selfie video posted on the boy’s Instagram account shows him hurling unprintables at a classmate whom he claimed had spread rumours about him. He goes on to issue what would have been dismissed as juvenile threats, were it not for them being laced with grotesque words.

Nairobi governor Mike Sonko on Monday, September 16, gave his two cents over the issue calling for counselling for the pupil.

Consolata School Nairobi
Consolata School in Nairobi. A video posted online of a student at the institution using vulgar language has gone viral.

“This boy needs a lot of help. He’s struggling. More than meets the eyes. Young man your apology is accepted next time when apologizing don’t use the word.  

“Fellow Kenyans let’s say No to cyberbullying this kid needs Love, guidance and counselling psychology,” he stated.

The pupil in question pulled down the controversial videos on Sunday, September 15, from his social media and put up an apology video.

“I know it wasn’t right for me to use the vulgar language and for that, I apologize. On my part, I know I overreacted and for that I’m sorry,” he stated.

Activist Boniface Mwangi was of the opinion that the boy needed to be sent to an approved school to be disciplined.

“At the age of 11 years, l was sent to Approved School. I had run away from home and l was convicted of ‘vagrancy.’ At 14 years, I was expelled from an approved school. The Consolata Boy belongs in approved, he will find teachers and boys who can teach him lessons on how to behave,” he stated.

Activist Boniface Mwangi.
Activist Boniface Mwangi. He stated that the boy ought to be taken to an approved school to be disciplined.

Manhunt launched as teacher’s decomposing body found next to crying baby

Police in Kisumu have launched a manhunt for a man suspected to have killed a teacher whose decomposing body was found inside her house yesterday.

The man is said to be from Mariakani or Mazeras in Coast and was the last person seen with the slain mother of one.

Kisumu County Commander Benson Maweu said they want the man to help police with investigations into the murder.

The Ulalo Primary School teacher is suspected to have been killed on Thursday night, in their rented house in Kapuonja, Kisumu West sub-county.

Yesterday, neighbours alarmed by a stench from the two-roomed house and the cry of a child, opened the door and stumbled on the body.

Covered in blood and weak after two days of hunger while sleeping on the cold floor, the baby reached for the neighbours.

“We gave her some milk which she took then fell asleep,” said Rose Akoth, one of the neighbours.

Gouged out

She said they found Achieng lying dead on the bed, her face swollen, one eye gouged out and her tongue sticking out. The body was covered with a piece of cloth on the chest.

Akoth said the couple appeared happy on Thursday evening. “We did not hear any screams and neither did we see the man leave,” she said.

Maweu said a post-mortem will be conducted as the investigators began tracking the teacher’s final moments amid search for the suspect.  The landlord, Francis Omollo, said the man once told him he was from Mariakani although he could not recall him saying his name.

In a visitor’s book the suspect signed at Ulalo Primary School on May 19, he gave his name as Abdi Rashid. A contact he gave was not going through yesterday.

Paka mzee… Narok man elopes with his son’s fiancee

Locals at a remote village in Narok North are still in shock after a village elder eloped with a girl his eldest son was planning to marry.

His son had introduced the girl to him and expressed his desire to settle down with her. The wealthy (by village standards) man found the girl ‘too hot to resist’, and turned tables on his son.

The wheat farmer began making passes at her whenever an opportunity presented itself. The old man was so determined that he used all means- threats, money and smooth-talking, to win the girl’s heart.

He allegedly sweet-talked the Class Eight drop out and bad-mouthed his son while at it. He convinced her not to get married to his son, claiming the young lad had no money of his own and that he depends on him for his daily needs.

The old man allegedly threatened the girl with a curse and further told her that if she insisted on marrying the young man, he would not sanction the marriage.

At her wit’s end, the poor girl is said to have reluctantly given in. Once the deal was sealed, the old man disappeared with her to Narok town, where they are believed to have stayed at a lodging, for days.  

“The poor boy came to learn that his father, who has three wives, had taken away the girl who is now pregnant. He only makes technical appearances to his wives, which led to suspicion before his cover was blown,” said a relative, who said that a cleansing ceremony will have to be undertaken.

When Crazy Monday traced the couple to backstreet lodging, the old man almost clobbered this writer. He was angry, but later calmed down and opened up saying he was on honeymoon and didn’t want disturbance.

“This girl is the love of my life and she will take care of me until I die. She was not meant for my son, the boy is too young and broke. He can’t even afford his own underwear, how will he keep a wife?” roared the old man without elaborating further.

When reached for comment on the shocking incident, the young man said he was helpless and couldn’t believe his own father would do such.

“I was so shocked and disappointed because the matter is now in the public domain. However, there is nothing I can do. I fear being cursed by my father,” he whined.

Local elders have picked up the matter, but it’s proving to be a hard nut to crack. Reason? The man is also a village elder and a reliable arbitrator in domestic squabbles.

Day man’s best friend was turned into ‘mouthwatering’ delicacy

Keeping dogs, man’s best friend, costs money – they need food, general care, vaccinations against worms and diseases and most of all, they demand attention, patience and great care.

The companionship of the canine friends has been known for ages as pets and for security reasons in most of the countries in the world, including Kenya, making it a cultural taboo serving up a dish of man’s best friend.

TABOO

Despite the love, the security services and the cultural taboo, Mr Martin Munene from Karimba village in Maara Sub-County, Tharaka-Nithi County last week took a knife and while whistling lured his only dog into his house where he tied it up and painfully slaughtered it for food.

He claimed he was driven into the act by hunger that were threatening his life.

Sorrowfully, but with no other option, Mr Munene went on and skinned his friend and boiled part of the meat and hanged the rest in the house, hoping that it would serve him for the next few days as he searches for a job to earn him future meals.

The meat and ugali was ready and Munene was set for a heavy lunch, having spent three days without food, when residents who had leanrt of the incident knocked on his door.

Already, the villagers had informed the authority and in few minutes the police, accompanied by area chief, arrived and Munene was handicapped and escorted to Chogoria Police Station to be arraigned before a Chuka court the following day.

Man had ‘bitten a dog’ and the news spread like bush fire through both mainstream and on social media reaching Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, who sympathized with the middle-aged man and ordered for his immediate release.

Mr Haji, in a message on Twitter, further directed the county’s criminal investigations boss Ms Betty Chepngeno and with help of the County Commissioner Ms Beverly Opwora to make sure the man gets adequate food.

With the ‘order from above’, Mr Munene walked out of the police cells a free man and his stomach full, not only for that day but until the dry season is over.

GOODIES

The following morning, Maara Deputy County Commissioner Mr James Wambua in company of other officers visited Mr Munene at his home and delivered a basket full of goodies including three cabbages, 8kgs of maize flour, cooking fat, onions and potatoes all worth Sh1,000.

The officers promised to continue supporting him with food until he is stable enough to feed himself and also advised him to always share his challenges with the villagers and administration before making such a decision.

Mr Munene revealed that before opting to slaughter his only pet, he had tried to ask for maize flour from a nearby shop but the owner declined because he had other several unpaid debts at the same place.

“I had gone without food for three days and instead of stealing, I decided to slaughter my dog because I could not wait silently and die,” said Mr Munene.

He thanked Mr Haji for his intervention noting that he could rot in jail and his sickly mother who solely depend on him suffer a lot because he could not afford to pay any fine if he were to be jailed.

Neighbours described Munene as a hardworking man and blamed his predicament on the prolonged drought that has made it hard to get food or even a job.

“Many people are suffering due to the drought and it is the high time government identifies the most affected families and support them with relief food as we wait November rainfall,” said Mr Peter Mutembei, a villager.

HUNGER

Karimba assistant chief Mr Flabian Nkonge confirmed many people are suffering from hunger but urged residents to seek help from government instead of eating dogs.

Kenyan law does not clearly describe animals that should be eaten but Section 3(3) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act states that a person found guilty of cruelty to animals is liable to a fine not exceeding Sh3,000, or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both.

Yet, in some parts of the world such as China, Nigeria, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam, Switzerland, Arctic and Antarctic, dogs are often on the menu.

In Nigeria, dog meat is a common delicacy. Some believe that eating the canine meat helps build immunity against diseases, especially in Suya area where people visit to eat grilled dog meat to protect themselves against the Ebola outbreak, despite health official warnings.

Some people also associate dog meat with improving one’s sex life.

While dogs are usually used for sledging through the ice in the Arctic, Greenland and other cold-climate countries, when meat supply runs low people who live in these regions turn to dog meat for nourishment.

In Vietnam dog meat is a sumptuous dish served in parties and other special occasions and is sold in lucrative hotels and meat markets.

Woman sues Dennis Itumbi for child support

Former State House Digital Director Dennis Itumbi has been dragged to court in a child maintenance row.

The mother of the child through lawyer Enricah Dulo, argues that Mr Itumbi deserted the child from birth and has refused to provide any form of support. She said she had to stop working before giving birth to the baby.

SH50,000 SUPPORT

She claims that she is also without any form of maternity pay and despite making several attempts to hold a meeting with him, Mr Itumbi only found it fit to send a friend instead of coming in person, or sending an advocate.

“She is seeking Sh50,000 monthly subsistence allowance for the minor to cater for food, clothing, medicine and house help salary,” lawyer Dulo said in court papers.

Other orders sought are that Mr Itumbi to provide a copy of his national identity card so that his name can be included in the minor’s birth certificate.

Mr Itumbi should also be granted reasonable access to the child, but the mother be granted actual and legal custody of the minor.

The woman claims that she was in a relationship with Mr Itumbi between January and August last year before the relationship abruptly ended.

“He ended the relationship in August 2018 when the lady informed him that she was pregnant with his child. She successfully delivered a baby girl on June 14, this year,” lawyer Dulo said.

The woman claims that she unsuccessfully tried to engage Mr Itumbi to provide maintenance for the minor but he refused to attend mediation meetings.

She claims that he also exhibited cruelty by trying to convince her to abort the pregnancy, when he discovered that she was pregnant.

“Itumbi has since blocked her and she is unable to engage with him on any meaningful communication in regard to the welfare of the minor,” lawyer Dulo said.

The case will be heard on September 26.

Beware! Drink-spiking has returned to some of your favourite night clubs

Imagine going out to have a good time but waking up at an odd hour with no recollection of what happened. The only thing you remember is the last sip of your favorite drink.

It appears this old trick by thugs of drugging and robbing revelers has returned to many Kenyan night clubs, if the recent happenings and stories shared on social media is anything to go by.

The most startling thing is that some of these incident have happened matatus and some popular clubs in Nairobi.

And its not just happening to the ‘naive’ party goers, there have been cases of police officers falling victim to drink-spiking.

For instance, last month one police officer who is based at at Vigilance House was robbed of his valuables and cash at gunpoint after he had his drink spiked by two female companions.

The wily ‘spikers’ and their armed accomplices also stole the officer’s ATM cards and forced him to reveal the PIN numbers.

SHOCKING TALES

They would later go on a shopping spree at a supermarket in Donholm, Eastlands where they bought high-end household electronics totaling to Sh380,000 using the stolen ATM cards.

Then on Saturday, police arrested three individuals who were arraigned in court to answer to charges of spiking patrons in city clubs before robbing them of their motor vehicles.

A call by one tweep, who goes by the name Droid254, to the online community to share their experiences of drink-spiking has also opened up the flood gates to some of the most shocking and horrifying experiences by night revellers at the hands of these ‘spikers’.

Here are some of the stories Kenyans who’ve been drink-spiked before had to share:

Droid@droid254

Who’s ever been drugged in a club, matatu etc.. What’s your story?

Sir Drink A Lot@muchekec_Replying to @droid254

2017 tukiwa bypass na a couple of friends. Some ladies joined our table, we partied till kitu 2a.m then I decided to step out and smoke. Kurudi, I proceeded with my drink kama kawaidathe next thing I remember was I woke up in hospital after 3days with no phone or wallet.24:24 PM – Sep 4, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Sir Drink A Lot’s other Tweets

Nilipuliziwa madawa kwa mat flani ya githurai, donda alikua ananiamsha after the 4th round from Tao to back. Zile za “boss amka ulipe gari umelala Sana”

Kuamka najipata bila viatu bana, wameiba kila kitu Githurai never again !7510:28 PM – Sep 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy28 people are talking about this

∞∞Its itchy fingers™@kenyan_dudeReplying to @droid254

I had chippod some lady and on our way home tukiwa Kwa Uber she gave me some chewing gum, the last thing I remember is her giving me a bj Kwa bed . I woke up at around noon with a condom still hanging on my penis kama ile kofia ya watoto.1937:45 PM – Sep 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy160 people are talking about this

MWIHAKI@MISS_NGIGIReplying to @droid254

😭
😭

In Thika , club porkies

Good thing I was with friends who took me home when they noticed I wasn’t okay.
Took me 3 whole days to recover.279:10 PM – Sep 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee MWIHAKI’s other Tweets

steve@stevemaksReplying to @droid254

Matatu years back.Woke up three days later sorrounded by siblings.Had been comatose throughout.Could have died.Thank God for the medical card that was in my wallet.69:40 PM – Sep 3, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee steve’s other Tweets

James @JmkmutumaReplying to @droid254

🙋‍♂️

In a club ….

Woken up by strangers at 11am 5miles away from my house, still high, with the car headlights on, ignition still on, with no phone and wallet intact inside with a 30k withdrawal receipt at 4.18am.99:39 AM – Sep 4, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee James ‘s other Tweets

Ꝟḯḵṯỏṝ Ragnarsson @Vik_JakabuochReplying to @droid254

Mimi at a house party in Umoja, was invited by a buddy, sijui ile dawa niliekewa ilikua ya rabies, niligeuka mwendawazimu, woke up nikajipata apo Bomblast nimekaa bila viatu na wallet.48:17 AM – Sep 4, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacySee Ꝟḯḵṯỏṝ Ragnarsson ‘s other Tweets

AbdulKadir Yusuf Sebit@AbdurleoneReplying to @droid254

Happened to a Bro. Came home to work after studies huko majuu and decided to sample Nairobi west for some fun. Thought he chippod some fine ghel kumbe ni krimino. Woke up 2 days later to a cleaned crib bro!! Was admitted for a week too.289:06 PM – Sep 3, 2019 · Nairobi, Kenya

Tricked by family members, widows in rural Kenya left landless

Two years ago, Alice Ciamati was living comfortably in a house on a plot of land she had recently inherited from her husband.

Now, she can be found roaming the shopping centre in the small village of Chera in Tharaka Nithi County, central Kenya, hunched over a walking frame and begging for food. At night, she sleeps on the streets.Ciamati, 62, blames her nephew for her destitution, saying he travelled from the capital Nairobi to trick her into giving away the title deed to her two acres (0.8 hectares) of land, then secretly sold the land and disappeared back into the city.“He told me the title deeds were being checked (by the government). So I gave them to him.

I was very happy when he returned them to me,” Ciamati told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, sipping tea at a kiosk in the shopping centre.But when the new owner came to evict her from her land wielding a copy of the deed, she showed her title deed to the area chief who had accompanied him. The chief confirmed hers was fake.“It was the worst day of my life. I could not believe that my nephew had secretly sold my land,” she said.“I will never forgive him, even in my grave.”Cases like Ciamati’s are becoming more common in rural Kenya, said local assistant police chief Lawrence Micheni.

Records at the county criminal registry show there have been about 11 cases of land fraud in Tharaka Nithi since January, almost double the amount for each of the past four years.Although the registry data does not distinguish which land fraud cases involve elderly widows, there has been a noticeable increase in “homeless grannies”, who say their land was stolen by family members, said Micheni.

Usually the familial fraud is committed by young, jobless relatives pretending to be visiting, only to trick widows into giving up their land deeds, he explained during an interview at his office.“They use the original documents to forge new ones and give (the fakes) back to the widows. Then they sell the land secretly and disappear.”Catching the perpetrators and bringing justice to the victims can be a struggle, Micheni noted, as his office does not have the power to settle land fraud cases, which are under the purview of the county courts.

The best the local police can do for widows who have been evicted from their land, he said, is offer them three kilogrammes of maize each month, which is donated by the county government.

FAMILY FRAUD

Josephine Muriuki, director of social development at the labour ministry, said the Kenyan government is trying to find a nationwide solution for growing land fraud against rural widows.In 2017, the state established the Inua Jamii cash transfer programme, which acts as a general welfare fund for all Kenyans aged 70 and above and supports many widows financially, he said.But, land rights activists say more needs to be done to protect victims.“(Inua Jamii) is only a short-term solution,” said Kamau Ngugi, executive director of the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, a Nairobi-based land advocacy group.

 “What Kenya needs is proper land reforms to make it cheaper and faster for justice to be served to the poor.”While Kenya’s census data says there are close to 900,000 widows in the country, a report by the Loomba Foundation, a global widows’ rights group, puts the number higher, at more than 1.4 million.Kenya’s constitution states that all women have equal rights to own property, but this often does not trickle down to social norms, with most land in Kenya still held by men.Only about 1% of ancestral land title deeds in Kenya are held by women, according to charity HelpAge International.

“Destitution of the elderly is a big problem, not only in rural villages but also among urban populations,” said Erastus Maina, country programme manager at HelpAge in Kenya.“In most cases, it is relatives who are worsening it by exploiting the ignorance of the elderly to take their property for themselves.”

VULNERABLE

For victims of land fraud, emergency relief and food donations can only provide temporary solutions, said Joyce Wanjiku Kairu, head of Purity Elderly Care Foundation, a Kenyan charity.There is a need to seriously address the longer-term effects of widows losing land and, in some cases, becoming homeless, such as the increasing rates of mental illness and even suicide among victims in rural Kenya, she added.

“Society expects the elderly in the villages to be taken care of by the young, but (the elderly) have been neglected by their kin, who comfortably live in the city. This is why they have become vulnerable to land fraud,” Wanjiku said.Ciamati, wearing a patched brown dress with a basket slung over her shoulder for collecting food scraps, said her advanced age has weakened her ability to pursue justice for her land.

Her only wish now is that her nephew does something to benefit the community with the money he got from selling her land.“In my heart I know I cannot forgive him. But I pray that he will use the money to do good things that help other people,” she said.