Life on the Edge of Justice

Hezron outside his house at Njagwani, NYS

Hezron Akinga Agwanda, 32 a father of four has been on the trail of eviction one after the other. He first came face to face with the reality of being evicted in 2002 after the death of his grandfather. The grandfather entrusted him with three rooms in Mathare North, Quarry slums. The slums are located off Outer Ring Road.

Today I joined him for a walk through the Mathare North so that I can understand his predicament. Our journey started at Ruaraka Police Post and Mathare North’s Chief’s Offices where has been reporting his cases. The first time he reported a case involving him and the tenant who had refused to pay the rent. In process, his tenants conspired with the village elders and the ownership of his structures changed hands. This happened after the village elders decided to register all the houses so that they can pursue legal ownership of the land. It is in the process of registration that Hezron lost his house to an outsider since he could not afford to pay Kshs. 30,000/-. Those who paid the fee, managed to be issued by allotment letters by the village elders.

The ‘Outsider’ land then started demanding rent from Hezron who refused to paid rent. Hezron has been more report to the police more than 10 times about the harassment including physical injuries he has been subjected to by goons hired by the new owner. Hezron has also previously reported the matter after a death threat delivered through phone and the matter is still under investigation.

The case became hot and finally the security chairman of Quarry slum decided that all tenant vacate the houses while they seek a permanent solution. Unfortunately the houses were later demolished and Hezron was threatened with arrest by the chief. The new ‘owner’ of his houses is claimed to be working in the office of the vice president wants to erect stone building.

With nowhere to go, Hezron decided to move to move to Jangwani as it is one of the cheapest place to live within Mathare. House rent is between 300/- to 700/-. Currently he is faced with possibility of being evicted again. The residents through the assistance of Kituo cha Sheria and Prof. Yash Pal Ghai have lodged a petition in court challenging the eviction notice. The case is slated for Monday 27/2/2011.

Hezron is fighting for justice to have a shelter not caring if it is in the slums or not. But he is fighting a tough battle and today I joined him in trying to establish the facts on the ground.  Hezron sometimes feels like he is fighting a loosing battle as the new owner is ‘powerful’ working in the office of the vice president.

At this time I turn to Kofi Annan for inspiration and direction on why I have to fight for justice: “….lack of respect for human rights and dignity is the fundamental reason why the peace of the world is so precarious, and why prosperity is so unequally shared”: On June 19, 2006, Kofi Annan the then UN Secretary General during a Human Rights Council in Geneva said. Simon


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