Kiteto Land Case Victory
Grace Mnhambo, aged 58 is a widow who lives in Olgine village, Kiteto district. She is a mother of six adult children, two females and four males. The eldest is 36 and the youngest 24. She has nineteen grand children, most of whom live with her. Her late husband (died in 2008) was blind after suffering from trachoma. When her husband was in good health before he lost his eye sight, he is the one who cleared their farm and put into use by growing maize, sunflower and pigeon peas.
Grace continued to own and farm the eight acre land she inherited from her husband at Azimio area, Olgine village. However in 2012, one man by the name of Sapi Maile came forward and claimed the farm to belong to him. He stressed to be the legal owner of this farm which Grace has owned. In this regard Grace decided to report the matter to the village lands committee. The committee summoned both on a set date to come forth to defend their claims. Grace finally won the case after Mr. Sapi’s failure to attend the case.
The issue did not end there as the following years (2013) another man, Masingisa Sonyo, came forth to claim Grace’s land to belong to him. Grace had to again turn to the village lands Committee for the second time but with a different claimant. The village lands committee advised Grace to report the matter to the ward lands committee in Songambele. The ward committee advised measurements of the land to be done and Grace failed to defend herself. She therefore lost in this case. However Grace had heard of Kiteto Interreligious Paralegal unit, (KIPU) so she decided to seek help from them. KIPU listened to Grace’s story and with legal support from the intern who has temporarily been hired by CCT to strengthen the unit, advised Grace to appeal for the case. Grace appealed to a higher committee (district lands committee) at Simanjiro. KIPU gave Grace assistance on how to defend herself since none of the KIPU members had the mandate to defend Grace. In other words the unit helped Grace indirectly and the case was decided in favour of Grace. Masingisa Sonyo was finally found to be a neighbor to Grace’s farm as testified by one of his witnesses. Grace believes that she won the case after encouragement for appeal from KIPU, also their legal advice helped Grace win the case. Bravo KIPU!
Grace has never put the farm into use since the issues arose and this has made food availability for her family be a problem for all the years she had a land case. She is looking forward to clearing the land and grow crops this year. In addition Grace, with support from KIPU, hopes to appeal to the district lands committee to be paid all case costs.