Esther Mwikali’s home was in Mithini village, Murang’a County, Kenya. A prominent and valued land rights activist, she looked into abuses against squatters who are living on land claimed by tycoons. The investigation Esther was part of also involved land rights’ violations in Makuyu by powerful individuals.
After failing to attend a village meeting, a search party went looking for Esther. On 27 August 2019, two days after her disappearance, her body was found on a farm near her homestead, displaying signs of torture. She was brutally murdered.
“Esther was renowned for her work to prevent community members being evicted from land claimed by tycoons. Local activists had no doubt her murder was related to the area’s ongoing land struggles, a tragic reminder of the alarming regularity with which extra-judicial killings are routinely carried out in Kenya,” - Global Witness Report, July 2020
“We associate Mwikali’s death with land struggles around here. We are asking the Government to investigate the matter without delay.” - James Mburu, spokesperson for the squatters
“Action should be taken on individuals who are alleged to have threatened the squatters including Mwikali's family.” - Alice Karanja, National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders
“The impact of her work and tenacity will remain alive in Kenya for decades. CJGEA consoles with the bereaved and it calls for justice.” - Center for Justice and Governmental Action (CJGEA) Press Release, 13 September 2019