THE Lusaka High Court has granted Shaputu village headman in Shibuyinji district an order of interim injunction restraining chief Shakumbila and four others from encroaching on four villages in the area which they allegedly is in the process of converting it into State land.
The court has also directed that the defendants who are Chikumbe Chibamba also known as chief Shakumbila, headman Sitali, headman Mulowa, headman Shichumpa Lubanje and Avlow Development Limited should not attempt to evict villagers in Shaputu, Sitali, Mulowa and Shichumpa Lubanje and other affected villages intended to be converted to State land without the consent of the villagers.
The court stated that the defendants whether by themselves, agents or servants should not disperse the concerned villagers in the area and set December 7 for hearing both parties in the matter.
And according to a statement of claim filed in the principal registry, headman Shaputu, Charles Shaputu, is seeking an order that the memorandum of understanding intended to surrender the traditional land compromising the four villages was null and void on account of fraud.
He also claims that the intended processes of title in favour of Avlow Development Limited was illegal, null and void and should be quashed by the court.
Shaputu stated that sometime between 2009 and 2017, Shakumbila, headman Sitali, headman Mulowa and headman Shichumpa Lubanje falsified a memorandum of understanding by fraudulent means purporting to say that the community and headmen had signed the handover of 7,560 hectares of land to the State for purposes of creating a leasehold between the State and Avlow Development Limited for purposes of establishing an Agricultural Development Company when in fact the community has never signed such MOU.
Shaputu alleged that Shakumbila was a shareholder in Avlow Development and intended to collude with the other defendants to fraudulently disperse people from their traditional land.
He added that the defendants without consent from the community prepared a list of villagers who purportedly consented to having signed to handover the land to the State for purposes of converting it to State land when in fact all the villagers on the list have denied ever having signed the documents, others are illiterates who have never been to school and do not know how to write but their names and signatures appear on the list.
Shaputu further stated that the defendants in connivance with a Sichoonda fraudulently issued a document purportedly signed by late headman Shichumpa Lubanje when in fact the said document was signed by Sichoonda who has an interest in Avlow Development.
He added that the application documents were purportedly issued to Town Council for presentation before the full council for approval to Ministry of Lands to have the land title deed in the name of Avlow Development when the company at the time was not registered with Patents and Company Registration Agency (PACRA), and therefore was none existent.
The plaintiff stated that the purported conversion of 7,650 hectares of land was illegal in that the law only allows a maximum of 250 hectares of land at a time.
Shaputu further stated that a search at Ministry of Lands, the Commissioner of Lands was in the process of issuing title to Avlow Development which would lead to the community being dispersed from the land they have lived on from time immemorial and without their consent