Exclusive legal representation is one of those necessities that the poor can only dream of, especially when confronted with serious legal issues that must be resolved in courts of law. Due to the high costs of legal services, most indigent people in Kenya are unable to have their legal needs met.

From right: Mr. Jared Nyakundi, an officer at Kituo Cha Sheria, Mr Boniface Muinde, lawyer at Kituo Cha Sheria, Ms Mary Ciambaka, Ms. Damaris Ndusia Musiemi, Kituo’s Volunteer advocate and Mr. John Munene, Mary’s younger brother at Chuka law court.  |  Photo by: Samfelix Randa


Ms Mary Ciambaka, an 84-year-old grandmother from Kathigiri in Chuka town, Tharaka Nithi County, is not unique. She had sold all of her property, including trees on the land where she had lived for 18 years, to pay for legal services in a land dispute with his first-born son, which was before the magistrate’s court.

Kituo Cha Sheria first learned about Mary’s legal representation request from a local newspaper (Daily Nation), where she was featured pleading with the government or any well-wisher to assist her in hiring a lawyer because she is unable to represent herself in court.

Mary had successfully defended her case against her son, and a ruling in her favor had been issued. The court ordered her son, Alex Kinyua, to leave the suit land, but he appealed the decision. She was concerned that if her appeal was successful, she would lose her land parcel.

Due to a lack of funds, she was unable to hire a private lawyer. Kituo’s legal team paid a visit to her Chuka home to assess the granny’s financial situation. The team confirmed that the granny is too poor to afford a private lawyer. Taking into account her plea and financial situation, Kituo cha sheria provided her with the necessary legal aid and representation for FREE.

Kituo Cha Sheria team team when they paid a visit to Mary at her home in Chuka to assess her financial situation |  Photo by: Samfelix Randa

Kituo through their lawyer, Mr. Boniface Muinde also confirmed that the appeal case will be heard at the Environment and Lands Court in Chuka town on January 31, 2023. Kituo will represent her and accompany her until justice is served.


Mary’s fight for justice began in 2004.

Lilian Karioki, her deceased daughter, paid Ksh. 160, 000 for a plot of land measuring 25 points. Mary, a single mother of five, shared this plot of land with Lilian and the other children. Lilian first made a Ksh. 131,000 deposit. However, she died before she could pay the remaining Kshs. 29,000 balance. The land vendor, Patrick Nthiga Nabea, the 2nd respondent in this case, stated unequivocally that Lilian could not be buried on the property until the remaining balance was paid.

Mr. Boniface Muinde, Lawyer at Kituo Cha Sheria, conducting a screening session with Ms. Mary at Chuka law courts waiting bay   |  Photo by: Samfelix Randa

Mary raised funds from close friends and relatives to pay off the debt. Mary gave Ksh. 29,000 to her son Alex Kinyua Gichungu, the first respondent, to clear the balance on behalf of his deceased sister. Alex, on the other hand, conspired with Patrick and had the property registered in his name (Alex’s name). Alex did not disclose that he was so registered in order to hold the property in trust for Lilian’s minor daughter Maureen Mwende Mwamba (Plaintiff).

Mary approached Patrick after Lilian was buried and asked for the land title deed. Patrick informed her that the title had been assigned to Alex. Mary desired that the land be registered in the name of Maureen, Lilian’s daughter, or Alex to hold the land in trust for her. Alex and Patrick both declined the request. Mary then moved to the DC, where she organized a series of meetings with the parties and the land board; however, Alex and Patrick purposefully did not attend the meetings.

Mary moves to court

Alex, according to Mary, threatened to kick them off the property and sell it. For the time being, the land is still registered in Alex’s name. Mary filed a motion in court to have the land transferred from Alex to Maureen (Lilians daughter), who she claims is of legal age and can own and manage her deceased mother’s property.

Kituo team led by Boniface Muinde, lawyer at Kituo Cha Sheria, perusing Mary’s file at Environment and Land Court registry in Chuka law courts. Photo by: Samfelix Randa.

The Judgement

Mary received a favorable judgment from the Chukka Chief Magistrates Court on November 1st, 2022. (ELC CASE NO. 20 of 2019). The court issued an injunction prohibiting Alex from selling, alienating, or transferring the property or interfering with the plaintiff’s use, enjoyment, occupation, and possession of the land in any other way. The court also stated that Maureen is the legal owner of the land and issued an order directing Alex to execute all relevant instruments and the Meru registrar to register all such instruments in order for Maureen to be registered as the proprietor of the parcel of land. In the alternative, Patrick, the land seller, be ordered to refund the purchase price plus interest at bank rates beginning September 4th, 2004 until payment in full

Alex’s Appeal

Mary can finally breathe a sigh of relief after Kituo cha sheria agreed to provide her with free legal advice and representation in the contentious case involving her and her son.

Mary explains how Kituo’s intervention is timely with a joyful expression on her face. “God bless Kituo!” The appeal case will be heard on January 31st, 2023. I thank Kituo Cha Sheria for offering to represent me for free and for promising to walk with me until justice is served.”

By: Samfelix Randa