In the morning of 10th June this year, two directors of Mahiga homes Ltd and their lawyer stormed in the third floor of the Nation Centre editorial desk. The issue is a story that appeared the day before which they claim “was false” and the Daily Nation “must apologize or face legal action”.
The furious Mahiga Homes Directors, Patrick Waweru Muchoki, Joseph Thuo Ruhiu accompanied by their lawyer Janet Kiboi had earlier written a letter to Nation Media Group threatening to sue. But instead of waiting for reply from the media house legal department, they decided to go to the newsroom and see the editor(s) in person.
The story that appeared on page 32 of the Daily Nation Smart Company pull out on 9th June was critical of Mahiga Homes for failing to finish its off plan housing projects in Kiambu, Nairobi and Kajiado counties.
The story which was written by Journalist John Mutua detailed how housing units of Mahiga Home is pale shadow of what was promised to home buyers as the houses lacks basic amenities like water, electricity and sewerage system.
The writer cited Mahiga homes housing projects which include cornerstone estates in Kimunyu located along Kenyatta Road at exit-14 of Thika Superhighway,Rockvilla estates on Kangundo road,Rock Gardens in Ruiru and Osoit Gardens Kitengela as poorly done.
“We are living here in darkness and the management isn’t even having the courtesy to remedy the situation. Some of us have even bought our own generators because as you can see we are on own on,” a resident was quoted as saying by the Daily Nation.
In a letter to Nation Media Group legal adviser Sekou Owino, Mahiga Homes company lawyer Janet Kiboi demanded that the Nation Media Group pull down the article from its website and apologize publicly “for causing damage to the company’s image”.
“The Daily Nation being a newspaper with a nationwide circulation has adversely tainted the company’s image. The words in the article are in their ordinary meaning and understood to mean by right thinking members of the public that Mahiga Homes Ltd is indeed dubbed as fraudulent and lacks integrity,” reads a letter from Mahiga Homes Ltd.
The real estate also warned the media house from publishing or disseminating “false and damaging” statements of Mahiga Homes and gave Nation seven days to apologise.
A few days after the article was published Mahiga Homes director Patrick Muchoki placed a full page advert in the Daily Nation with his photo announcing that “Mahiga homes partners with Daily Nation as it reaches people in all corners of the country”.
On Sunday June 14th the article was missing from the Daily Nation website for a few hours before it was uploaded back. On Tuesday 16th June Daily Nation run a positive article on Mahiga homes titled “How real estate firm is navigating virus crisis” detailing the company’s achievement in real estate and how its dealing with covid19 effects in the industry. This is being seen by many as one way the newspaper is trying to sanitize the company.
Things turned dramatic in the newsroom when Peter Mwaura, the Nation Media Group Public editor received emails and calls from readers asking why Daily Nation was sanitizing Mahiga Homes and which of the two stories is true.
Mr. Mwaura accused Smart Company editor Mr. David Abuna of violating Nation Editorial policy.
“He did not respond respond to my questions as to what went awry in publishing the glaringly contradictory stories about Mahiga Homes, all within the space on one week. Nor did Mr. Mutua respond to my question as to whether he still stands by his expose.” He wrote on his weekly Friday column in the Daily Nation of June 26th..
It’s not clear how the Nation Media Group will deal with Mr. Abuna who has served the media company as business news editor for more than 10 years and the two corespondents; Mr. Mwaniki and Mr Mutua.
Mahiga homes has been a subject of discussion lately from Kenyans on social media as it’s home buyers complain of poorly done house units in Nairobi and Kajiado areas.
Investigation has also shown that the real estate company has only handed over 62 units in small estates of as low 8 houses since it’s inception. The company is also accused of lying to people that it owns quarries from which it sources it’s products.
Mahiga homes Ltd is also alleged to be building on a public land in Ruai which has made the county government of Nairobi deny permit as it seeks to repossess land.
Letters in our possession also show complains to NEMA over raw sewage disposal.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is already skimming through bank records, tax returns and other transaction details of the off plan real estate company as it tightens the noose on cheats with renewed enforcement of tax laws.