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Archive for December 1st, 2010

Conmen carry the day as Kenyans scramble for Embakasi plots

Posted by Administrator on December 1, 2010

Alluring signposts. Most buyers are unaware that they are not the true owners of the land, until they attempt to develop it or take a loan. File

Alluring signposts. Most buyers are unaware that they are not the true owners of the land, until they attempt to develop it or take a loan. File

Everyone is scrambling for a piece of land in Embakasi,” said Njiru Location chief Josephat Githenji, sitting amid a pile of paperwork. 
For the last few months, Mr Githenji’s office in the Embakasi area on the outskirts of Nairobi has been awash with paperwork.

Unfortunately, most of it is fake; everything from fake titles to building permits. Property investors in Embakasi are losing out to well-organised cartels who resell land to unsuspecting investors, create fake property documents, and sell poorly constructed buildings.

Mr Githenji encounters many complaints of double allocation of land. When he pushes the parties to furnish him with ownership proof, he often gets forged papers. 

Kenyans’ hunt for a plot has led to land in the area being sub-divided into minute plots which unscrupulous agents sell to as many as five people at a time. Most buyers are unaware that they are not the true owners of the land, until they attempt to develop it or take a loan on it.
For those who manage to secure a plot, shifty contractors are the order of the day. Mr Githenji said that not a single house in the entire Njiru in Embakasi area is built to legal specifications. Most of the victims are civil servants who were retrenched in the 1990s and invested their golden handshake money in the area. Other victims are shareholders who invested through ranching companies. Area MP Ferdinand Waititu said sprouting estates gave a false impression of an area that is the panacea to Nairobi’s middle class housing shortage problem. 
“You see a lot of what I would call ‘chaotic ownership’ . In some instances, you can find up to 10 claims to one parcel of land,” said the MP. 

Sell land

Today, a quarter acre in a non-prime area fetches between Sh400,000 and Sh500,000 with those in the prime zone asking for millions of shillings. 

But shareholders, many of who are pursuing their deceased parents’ shares, claim that they are losing land to ranching companies.

James Banga said: “They sell your land, which was procured at Sh4,000 a share, at a huge profit and then propose to refund you Sh4,000 a share.” 

A former surveyor with Embakasi Ranching Company, Eustace Mahinda, said he had an original map of the area, adding that a lot of distortion had taken place. “For instance, I have a map showing 350 acres of public utility land in Ruai. There are a further 100 acres in Njiru area. But the reality on the ground is that all this has been traded off.” Some shareholders have been trying to meet President Kibaki or Prime Minister Raila Odinga to resolve the issue.

Lands PS Dorothy Angote said the woes bedeviling area residents were a result of haphazard administration of land at the national database.

“Unless we put in place a national land policy that will create a national land information management system, it will be very hard to escape such complaints,” she said.

She said such a system “will, at a touch of a button, resolve cases of double allocation and fraudulent sale of private land.”  She lamented that the rot had prevailed since 1907 when the search for a land policy started. 

Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Conmen%20carry%20the%20day%20as%20Kenyans%20scramble%20for%20Embakasi%20plots/-/539444/1062464/-/12vdl5f/-/index.html


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Kenyan man among 25 named in illegal marriage operation

Posted by Administrator on December 1, 2010

Rashid Kakande arrives at U.S. District Court in Bangor on Monday.

Rashid Kakande arrives at U.S. District Court in Bangor on Monday.

BANGOR, Maine — At least 25 individuals have been identified by federal prosecutors as being part of a scheme to set up sham marriages between Maine residents and aliens seeking to obtain residency status in the United States.

Five of them, all Maine residents, have waived indictment and pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Bangor to conspiracy to commit marriage fraud. They are Angela Roy, 37, of Lewiston; Torri Roy Patterson, 33, Auburn; and Kelly Rider, 24, June Roy White, 56, and Albert White, 48, all of Newport.

Roy and Patterson are the daughters of June Roy White, who now is married to Albert White, according to court documents. Rider is a neighbor of June White.

Two Massachusetts men, Rashid Kakande, 38, of Woburn and James Mbugua, 49, of Springfield, were indicted in July by a federal grand jury for conspiring to defraud the U.S. Both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The pair allegedly paid Maine residents to marry and-or recruit others to marry immigrants, many of whom had overstayed their visas. Once married to U.S. citizens, the immigrants then could seek a change in their residency status from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, according to court documents. If a change to conditional resident status is granted, it opens the door for eventual citizenship.

Kakande, pronounced kah-KAHN-dee, is a native of Uganda who allegedly arranged sham marriages between Dec. 5, 2003, and June 17, 2007, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A native of Kenya, Mbugua, pronounced mah-GOO-ah, allegedly set up marriages from Feb. 22, 2005, to Oct. 26, 2006. Both men are lawful permanent residents of the U.S., but convictions could affect their immigration status.

Mbugua, who was free on $25,000 unsecured bond, now is considered to be a fugitive. He stopped communicating with the Office of Probation and Pre-trial Services in Massachusetts and his attorney, Eric Mehnert of Bangor, in late October, less than two weeks before his trial was scheduled to begin on Nov. 4.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Margaret Kravchuk on Monday denied Kakande’s request to travel home to Uganda for his teenage son’s surgery next month. He is free on $25,000 unsecured bond, but the court holds his passport and bail conditions forbid travel outside the U.S.

In denying the request, Kravchuk said Kakande did not have a substantial amount of cash or property to post as bond to ensure his appearance at a trial. The judge also said that because there is no extradition treaty between the U.S. and Uganda, Kakande could not be extradited if he failed to return on his own.

Kravchuk said Kakande had been abiding by conditions of his pretrial release. Mbugua’s disappearance could not enter into her decision about Kakande’s request, according to court rules.

Kandande’s trial is set tentatively for Jan. 4.

The trial briefs filed in Mbugua’s case reveal how the scheme allegedly worked.

Mbugua rented a house from Kakande in an unnamed Massachusetts city when Mbugua first came to the U.S. on a six-month visitor’s visa on March 10, 2002, according to court documents. Four days before his visa was scheduled to expire, he married Kristen Roy of New Hampshire. On March 5, 2005, he was granted condi-tional permanent residency, according to court documents. The couple now is divorced.

Court documents do not explain how the two met or if Kristen Roy is related to the Roys who have pleaded guilty in the case. The brief filed by prosecutors in Mbugua’s case says Angela Roy and Torri Roy Patterson met Kakande at a Lewiston bar in 2003.

Both eventually wed foreign nationals in marriages allegedly arranged by Kakande. The two women recruited their mother, her neighbor and other friends, according to court documents.

The men and women who recruited others into the marriage scheme were paid about $200, according to court documents. How much the spouses of immigrants or what the immigrants themselves paid was not included in the briefs.

If convicted, all seven defendants face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

Sentencing dates have not been set for the five defendants who have pleaded guilty in the case.

The names of the other 18 people allegedly involved in the scheme have not been made public by federal prosecutors.

Source: http://www.bangordailynews.com/story/Statewide/25-named-in-illegal-marriage-operation,160210?ref=topstoriesOld

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A story of raising families despite HIV status

Posted by Administrator on December 1, 2010

MACHAKOS, Kenya, Nov 30 – When 28 year old Mwende (not her real name) discovered she was pregnant in 2004, she was devastated. This was not how she envisioned her future and so she toyed with the idea of aborting the baby.

But then, fear of death by abortion and morality took over and Mwende decided to keep the pregnancy. Before she figured out how she would break the news to her fairly traditional parents, rumors about her boyfriend’s positive HIV status started doing the rounds.

“One of my friends would come and tell me that my boyfriend and future father of my child was sick. And then a neighbour would come and tell me the same thing. It was driving me crazy and as much as I tried to ignore the rumours, my pregnancy wouldn’t allow me,” she explains.

Mwende, who was at that time one month pregnant decided to continue hiding her pregnancy in an effort to buy time.

Meanwhile pressure at the government dispensary, where she had started her maternal clinics, continued to increase. Nurses advised her to get a HIV test and her brief escape from reality had come to a halt.

“My HIV results came back positive and the depression set in. I cried everyday for the following two weeks and would barely eat. How could I tell my parents about the baby and then follow up the shocking news with my HIV positive status? I just couldn’t tell anyone,” she recalls with a tinge of sadness in her voice.

Mwende blamed herself, her boyfriend and everyone else around her for her predicament.

“I couldn’t stand my boyfriend and I hated him for infecting me with the virus. He had been my first lover and knowing that he knew about his HIV condition before we had any sexual relations but kept it secret from me made it worse for,” she says.

She however adds that the doctors at the clinic gave her hope and helped her overcome her depression. Mwende figured she needed her family’s support so she told them about her pregnancy but kept her HIV status secret.

“In fact the questions I had about keeping the baby or terminating it started coming up again because I didn’t want to give birth to a sickly child. But then my doctor reassured me that my child would not get the virus if I followed his instructions,” she says.

Her doctor started taking measures that would ensure HIV was not transmitted to Mwende’s unborn child.

When she was eight months pregnant, Mwende was put on a combination of ARVs aimed at lowering her viral load as her due date approached. The cocktail of drugs is usually more effective in preventing HIV transmission from mother to child.

“I would take the drugs twice a day – in the morning and in the evening. About six weeks after I had started taking the drugs, I delivered a baby girl who was immediately given Nevirapine syrup before I was told not to breastfeed her,” she explains.

If Mwende wanted to breastfeed then her daughter would have to take the drug (Nevirapine) for the entire period she was to be breastfed. This drug is used to prevent the transmission of HIV through breast milk.

After the birth of her child, Mwende started taking Septrin.

This drug is given to persons living with HIV to prevent common opportunistic infections such as diarrhoea, malaria or chest ailments. People with a CD4 count of less than 250 are normally placed on a combination of ARVs and Septrin while those with a higher CD4 count are only placed on the latter.

Her failure to breastfeed her child however started raising questions.

“People started talking. They would say that I have full blown AIDS to try and find an excuse why I was not breastfeeding. I kept giving false excuses even to my mother but no one was buying them. My main concern was my child. There were even women who said they would breastfeed my daughter for me,” she explains.

However the truth eventually came out.

“I had hidden the drugs in my suitcase as usual and my mother happened to find them. She confronted me and I had to tell her the truth which was a relief because it had burdened me for a long while. It has not been easy but knowing she is there for me makes it better,” she says.

Her daughter is now six and will be going to class two in January.

Anita’s story is almost synonymous with Ms Mwende’s.

However Anita who has been living with HIV for the past six years has four children. Her last three children were conceived and born when she was HIV positive.

“It was during my second pregnancy that I learnt of my HIV status but I kept it to myself. However after giving birth to my son, I decided to come clean and advised my husband to get tested. His results were also positive but I thank God that he didn’t disown us,” she says.

Anita adds that her doctors supported and guided her through all her three pregnancies. She says she did not breastfeed her second and third born children but decided to exclusively breastfeed her fourth born.

“The doctors advised me to stick to one regime such that if I chose to breastfeed a child, then I had to do it through out his/her entire infancy while at the same time giving him/her the Nevirapine syrup but I think not breastfeeding at all is a better option,” she says.

She explains that keeping a child on the drugs is not easy.

“For example for my last born son, I had to know when to wean him off the breast milk while at the same time increasing his Septrin dosage. He would suffer side effects from time to time and I had to regularly take him to clinics for his HIV tests,” she says.

She notes that although the other two children were also tested for HIV after they were born, it was not as periodic as it was with the last born.

“The doctors advised me to keep taking them for tests so as to be prepared because if HIV is caught early and the right measures are put in place, it will not progress to AIDS,” she recalls.

Anita however notes that having to explain the reasons why she did not breastfeed her second and third born children was a taxing affair.

“People would call me all sorts of names because I wasn’t breastfeeding. I would feel bad because much as I wanted to explain my situation, I couldn’t. I remember my experiences with my mother-in-law were worst because she would put pressure on me to breastfeed but I still couldn’t,” she explains.

Machakos District Nutrition Officer Francis Mutinda says that it is important for HIV positive mothers to eat well balanced meals in order to maintain their strength and keep away opportunistic infections. He adds that the drugs cannot serve their purpose well if the body lacks the required nutrients.

“You cannot just take drugs without eating and as much as that might sound like common sense, people here don’t eat very well perhaps due to poverty. But nevertheless we advise them to make good use of foods that are easily available in our district,” he says.

Mr Mutinda further explains that patients who suffer from HIV are often advised to keep away from alcoholic and acidic foods.

“Most of the drugs given to persons with HIV react badly with alcohol because they normally have side effects such as nausea, headaches, vomiting which are normally worsened by alcohol. Besides alcohol often inhibits the usefulness of the drugs,” he says.

He however notes that there is no special diet for persons living with the HIV virus.

Machakos District AIDS and STI Coordinator Nicholas Muindi says it is important for HIV positive persons to remain faithful to their treatment regimes.

“This prevents patients from developing drug resistance because when an individual with HIV stops responding to the drugs he or she is given, then we are forced to give them stronger medicines,” he says.

He adds that eating well also helps manage the virus: “If you eat well and take your drugs as required then you are able to keep your CD4 Count levels above the minimum level. But if you don’t eat well and your CD4 Count levels drop, then the doctors will be forced to put you on ARVs.”

He also observes that because of the misconceptions of side effects that come up as a result of HIV medication, some patients refuse to accept reality.

“But you see this only makes it worse. And you know that the side effects people talk about can be managed. Sometimes we even change the treatment regime when the side effects are really bad. But acceptance is key,” he says.

Although Mwende has not transmitted her HIV condition to any of her children, doctors continue to advise her to prevent any other pregnancies.

Dr Muindi explains that this is because pregnancy often depletes nutrients from the mothers to their unborn children.

“Pregnancies take a lot from mothers and you’re more vulnerable as a woman if you have HIV. And besides that we still advise HIV positive couples to use condoms when engaging in sexual acts so as to prevent the transfer and exchange of the HIV strains,” he explains.

Mwende also says that she does not want to get any other children: “I have to take care of the ones I have and I don’t think my body has the strength to sustain another pregnancy.”



Read more: http://www.capitalfm.co.ke/news/Kenyanews/A-story-of-raising-families-despite-HIV-status-10711.html#ixzz16rUXGCiD

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WikiLeaks: Americans Want to Overthrow Kenyan Government

Posted by Administrator on December 1, 2010

Nairobi — KENYA yesterday implied there was an attempt by the United States to overthrow the government.

In a statement reacting to the imminent release of 1800 diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Nairobi, Government spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua declared, “The government is aware that a lot of money has been allocated to fund the youth to cause an uprising against our country and lead us into turmoil in an attempt to install a new leadership structure.” Mutua released the statement as US Under Secretary of State Maria Otero and ambassador Michael Ranneberger met representatives of the National Youth Forum, which consists of over 60 national youth organisations, at the ambassador’s residence in Muthaiga, Nairobi.

“The Kenyan government is concerned with foreign attempts to create despondency against the government and the country in the guise of youth empowerment,” Mutua’s statement declared.

“The Government is monitoring these events keenly and will not allow outsiders to ruin the peace and stability we are enjoying,” he stated.

Mutua said the United States had contacted the government to express regret over the cables.

“The US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, called our Prime Minister yesterday and apologised for what is expected to come out. The US Government indicated they are sorry for the content in the leaked documents. They however have not told us what the documents say and what exactly they are sorry for,” said Mutua.

aThe leaked reports depict Kenya as “a swamp of flourishing corruption,” according to the German magazine Der Spiegel. “Almost every single sentence in the embassy reports speaks with disdain of the government of President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga”

“It is important to make it very clear that Kenya has had a very good relationship with the United States,” stated the Government Spokesman.

He added, “We do not know the details of the leaked cables, but if what is reported is true then it is totally malicious and a total misrepresentation of our country and our leaders. We are surprised and shocked by these revelations.”

The government statement adds, “It would be premature at this stage for us to comment on the contents of the leaks until we see them. What we know is that true friends should tell you the truth all the time and should not tell you everything is okay on one hand and on the other hand say the opposite or initiate programs against you.”

The 1800 Kenyan cables have not yet been released as the Wikileaks website is releasing the 250,000 American diplomatic cables from around the world only bit by bit.

The Kenyan cables are however all from 2005 up until February 2010 apart from one cable from May 1996.

The cables will reveal what the US really thought of the coalition government and the role America played in the disputed December 27, 2007 election.

Following yesterday’s meeting with the youth group, Otero underscored the important role the youth in Kenya must play.

“The challenges of a nation are daunting to even the most veteran leaders, among them ending a culture of impunity, mitigating ethic conflict, closing the inequality gap, and promoting development among all Kenyans. But with the future in the hands of these young leaders, I am confident that progress will be made,” Otero said in a press statement.

Washington is spending US$47 million in its ‘Yes Youth Can!’ initiative to empower Kenyan youth to achieve a greater voice in national reform and create new employment opportunities.

It includes a $12 million fund called ‘Youth Innovate for Change’ to provide young people with capital for investment.

In recent months Ranneberger has travelled around Kenya meeting youth groups.

The US is furious about the Wikileaks which affect 240 American embassies and diplomatic missions around the world.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday that the leaks were “an attack on the international community” and not just the US.

In the first response to the leaked cables by a senior member of the Obama administration, she said her government “deeply regrets” the release.

A grim-faced Clinton insisted America was taking “aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information”.

Other American politicians were much angrier with one even suggesting that WikiLeaks be classified as a terrorist organisation.

Source: Nairobi Star

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