MASERU — The land ownership tussle in Ha Hoohlo suburb took a new turn this week as residents of one plot resorted to legal means to avert eviction and the impending destruction of houses on the disputed property.
A week ago six families were left homeless after their rented houses were brought down by the new owner of the property, local businessman Ashraf Abubaker, who wants to develop the piece of land.
Paballo Matjama, one of the residents, last Friday said they found an anonymous letter instructing them to vacate their property by the following Monday.
“Copies of the letter, written by someone claiming to be the owner of the property but were not signed, were tucked under each of the houses on site,” Matjama said.
Matjama said when his parents found the letter they had consulted a lawyer for advice.
The anonymous note could have been dismissed as a joke since it was not signed but, given that issuance of similar notes preceded demolition of properties last week, Matjama said residents took the note seriously.
In his request for security for his clients — the Matjama family — Lebohang Ramakhula told officer commanding Hoohlo Police Station that his clients had been threatened by an anonymous letter which instructed them to vacate their houses, adding that they were seeking security “because in the past people have had their property destroyed by unknown people after such letters had been received”.
“May I indicate that this is getting out of hand as in the past, people have experienced destructions to their properties after receiving such notes,” Ramakhula said in a letter to police.
Meanwhile another lawyer, Lepeli Molapo, appearing for one Nandi Mokhethea who is also said to have received the anonymous note, said his client would not be moving from her property anytime soon, adding that there was a case before the courts over the same plot.
“Our instructions are to inform the writer of the said notice that over and above the illegality of the notice, she (Mokhethea) will not be vacating the said premises by the said date or any time in as far as she is the owner thereof and there is legal litigation pending in the courts of law in that regard,” Molapo said in a letter.
The disputed site has been a bone of contention in the Ngwenya family for well over a decade.
The property was initially owned by the late ‘Mamaema Ngwenya who is said to have allocated portions thereof to her relatives including ‘Mamoshoeshoe Ngwenya and the Matjama household.
However, a relative who worked for the then Land Surveys and Physical Planning department had promised to deliver their leases “but had since become evasive when she was supposed to deliver the documentation to deserving owners”.
After failing to deliver the said documents, the families occupying the property had since been receiving threatening notices which were in many instances followed by destruction to property.
“This lady had promised the two families that she would speed up the processing of their leases but she failed to live up to her promises,” Matjama said.
It later emerged that the same relative had sold the piece of land behind their backs allegedly to a foreign businessman.
Matjama said about three years ago representatives of the businessman had tried evicting them from the site by sending similar notes followed by destructions to their properties.
“So they are back again this year with no valid documentation and doing everything the wrong way,” Matjama said.
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