An 80-year-old widow in Thika is a relieved woman after the appellate court ordered a land-buying company to return to her a parcel of land worth Sh1.2 billion.
The Court of Appeal ruled that whether there was misrepresentation or not, the transfer of the contentious 85.3 acres to Lang’ata Development Company was null and void.
In the matter, Ms Mary Wairimu Dames decided to sell part of her Mary Dale farm, which was about 1,062 acres in 1989.
The company’s directors identified the land and visited her house where it was agreed that the company would buy 672 acres for Sh23,500 per acre, translating to Sh15,792,000.
The terms were captured in an agreement dated February 6, 1989.
But during the transfer, the measurements were drafted in hectares, which saw Ms Dames lose 85.3 acres, now worth Sh1.2 billion.
In the ruling, justices William Ouko, Patrick Kiage and Agnes Murgor said during the transfer, it was strange that the advocates and the surveyor managed to transfer an extra 85.3 acres without paying a cent for it.
A title issued to the company on August 25, 1992 said the land measured about 306.5 hectares.
It has taken Ms Dames 14 years to recover the land, after discovering the anomaly in 2004 when she received a rates demand from the defunct Municipal Council of Thika, which showed the acreage of her remaining land, which she still occupied, to be different from what it ought to have been.
The judges said the transfer to and registration of the 306.5 hectares is the crux of the dispute, because its acre equivalent is 757.3, which exceeded the agreed and paid for 672 acres.
“This appeal and the dispute that led to it is yet another example of the perfidious nature of human beings and their interactions which go to show that honesty and honour are at times in short supply,” the judges said.
High Court Judge Lucy Gacheru had in 2016 said she was not persuaded that the firm had been fraudulent, but nevertheless found that there was a mistake or misrepresentation as to acreage.
The judge instead ordered the company to compensate the widow for the 85.3 acres at the prevailing market rates. Both the company and Ms Dames filed appeals.
Ms Dames said the company got more that it paid for and the extra portion should be returned. On its part, the firm said the land was not available having been sub-divided and sold to third parties, which was found to be untrue.