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AREA 38 LAND WRANGLE: Court stops Lilongwe Council

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By Macdonald Thom:

The High Court in Lilongwe has granted an injunction to 72 people stopping Lilongwe District Council (LCC) from evicting them from Lilongwe’s Area 38.

This follows an application by Edmund Chirambo and 71 others, who are protesting the council’s decision.

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Judge Charles Mkandawire granted the residents the injunction after an inter-partes hearing of the application.

According to the injunction, dated October 2 2018, which The Daily Times has seen, Lilongwe District Council and the Attorney General— representing Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development— are defendants in the case.

“It is hereby ordered that the defendants, their agents, relatives and /or servants whomsoever acting on their behalf are restrained from grabbing, interfering or trespassing onto, or doing anything on the claimants’ land in Area 38…by way of encroaching on the piece of land or doing any other activity in a manner as if they are owners of the said land… until [a] final determination of this matter,” reads the document.

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The court, however, ordered the claimants to file summons within seven days from the day the injunction was granted.

The residents took the matter to the High Court on August 29 2018. In his affidavit in support of an application for an injunction, Chirambo argued that, since chiefs in the area allocated him a piece of the land in the area, there have been extensive developments and there are dwelling houses supplied with water from Lilongwe Water Board.

He said others have gone a step further to register their pieces of land with the Ministry of Lands.

Another claimant Benson Maleza, also in an affidavit, argued that he has been on the piece of land since his birth in 1994 and was allocated user rights by his parents.

He said, on August 20 2018, he was surprised when LCC told him and others to stop constructing structures on the piece of land, and vacate immediately on the basis that government wanted to construct houses for police officers.

“[I submit] that there are dwelling houses on the land that the defendants intend to grab from us and there is a real danger that the defendants can demolish our houses on the claimed land and render us destitute as we have nowhere to settle,” reads the document.

But in a sworn statement in opposition to the application, Regional Commissioner for Lands, Muhammad Selemani, said chiefs have no control over the land as it is public land.

“It is a planned area within the city of Lilongwe; as such, chiefs have no powers to allocate the said land,” he said.

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