Rift Valley Regional Commissioner George Natembeya has been implicated in the Mau Forest encroachment saga.
Mr Natembeya was on Monday mentioned among individuals with personal interest in the Mau Forest land.
Mr Johnson Talam, a witness who appeared before a three-judge bench at the Environment and Lands Court, said Mr Natembeya’s wife Lilian Khaemba owns a parcel of land at the controversial Mau Forest. Mr Talam, who claimed to be the chairman of Enkarooni Group Ranch whose titles the government seeks to quash, said he presided over the sub-division of the land to individual parcels.
He told the court that Enkarooni Group Ranch Secretary Joseph Kimeto Mapelo surrendered part of his land to Mr Natembeya through his wife Lilian in 2000.
“Ms Khaemba was given parcel number 1065 by Mr Mapelo when Mr Natembeya was still the Divisional Officer in Mulot, Narok County. He even told me to take care of his interest on the land when I once visited his office,” said Mr Talam.
The witness said he bought the land from the Dorobo who were the original dwellers in 1976 after the land was adjudicated in 1973.
He said he was elected chairperson of the Enkarooni Group Ranch which had 1,200 members in 1977. The court heard that Mr Talam led the members to register at the lands adjudication office in Narok.
In 1988, Mr Talam said the government ordered that all the ranches be sub-divided so that members can have individual titles.
“We applied for consent from the Lands Control Board and it was granted. The lands office sent land surveyors to confirm the boundaries for each member’s parcel for purposes of issuing title deeds,” said Mr Talam.
While defending the title deeds, Mr Talam roped in Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko, saying the CS helped some of the ranch owners to acquire title deeds when he was an advocate.
He produced a letter from the Narok County Council addressed to Mr Tobiko informing him that his clients’ parcel of land in Ololoonga did not encroach on the forest.
“Moreover, when the Enkaroni Group Ranch was being sub-divided and the respective parcels allotted to members, the council confirmed to the lands control board that it had no objection to that exercise,” read the letter dated September 24, 1999.
He defended the legality of his title and accused the government of violating their right to own property by evicting them from the forest.
The case was filed by the more than 500 residents in 2018 who sought to block the government from evicting them.
Through lawyers Kimutai Bosek and Humphrey Manyange, the petitioners claimed they owned the parcel of land and had all the genuine ownership documents.
The government, in its cross-petition, wants the court to revoke about 600 title deeds which it claims were acquired illegally.