Trustees of a premium golf club in central Kenya have moved to court seeking to compel plantation firm Kakuzi Plc to remove its cows from their property, saying the livestock are destroying the greens and fairways and making the course unplayable.
In a case filed at the Environment and Land Court, the trustees of the Makuyu Golf Club in Murang’a County further want 10 directors of Kakuzi jailed for letting the livestock trespass on the golf course against a court order issued in September 2019.
The golf club officials led by Joel Wanyoike, Irungu Ndirangu and S.K Kirubi want the Kakuzi directors, including Christopher John Flowers, Andrew Ndegwa Njoroge, Keta Shah, and Graham Harold Mclean, jailed for disobeying the judgment.
“That it is only proper that the directors of the respondent…be subjected to punitive measures by being committed to civil jail as this honourable court may deem fit to grant,” the application says.
The suit marks the latest flare-up in relations between the golf club and Kakuzi, which have been embroiled in a protracted court battle that started in 2002.
The dispute was triggered after Kakuzi allegedly demanded that the golf club start paying fees for using the land.
The trustees and members were notified of the new development when they were about to host a tournament on the golf course.
Through lawyer David Mereka, the club says the Environment court ruled in favour of them in September 2019 stating that Kakuzi’s ownership of land measuring 72 acres was extinguished by adverse possession.
But despite the win, the Kakuzi directors have allegedly chosen to ignore or disobey the court order by allowing cattle to trespass onto the golf course and in the process damage it.
Although Kakuzi obtained an order suspending the judgment pending appeal, the decision is still valid as it has not been set aside, Mr Wanyoike says.
He said in an affidavit that Kakuzi has been grazing animals and trespassing on the property and that its directors should be punished for disregarding the court order.
“I am further advised by my advocate that such contempt is punishable by a fine or imprisonment,” he says, asking the court to commit the 10 directors to civil jail.
In the 2019 decision, Justice Oscar Angote ruled that the club acquired the land through adverse possession, having been on the ground since 1934.
The trustees said that the land was donated by white settlers for use as a golf course.
The golf course also has permanent buildings, a borehole with a pump, a bar and a store.
Kakuzi had opposed the case arguing that members of the club have been using the 72 acres of the land as a golf course with its express consent and knowledge.
Further, the company said it has always supported the club and helped it with maintaining the golf course, including supplying it with diesel, lending it tractors and lawnmowers, paying wages for the clubhouse watchmen and the golf course employees and providing it with building and maintenance materials until the services were terminated in March 1996.
“Considering the evidence before me, I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s use of approximately 72 acres of L.R No. 11674 as a golf course has been continuous, exclusive and without the permission of the defendant for a period of 12 years. The defendant’s [Kakuzi’s] title in respect of the said land has therefore been extinguished by effluxion of time,” the judge ruled.