FIVE Lusaka residents have sued the State and Lusaka City Council in the Lusaka High Court seeking a declaration that they are the owners of the land on which Lusaka Province minister Bowman Lusambo ordered the demolition of their houses on allegations that they illegally acquired it.
Emmanuel Mulenga, Yvonne Sinkala, Charity Mututubanya, Makabe Jere and Nanyatonya Ngambi are also seeking damages for demolition of their houses by Lusambo and damages for mental stress and anguish.
The five also want an order for compensation for the demolished structures, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.
According to their statement of claim, the five said that around 2013, Tunduya Community also known as Munali Ward 33 which they were part of, collectively applied to LCC for recommendation to the Commissioner of Lands to be issued with offer letters for the land between Munali Secondary School and Tunduya, as residential plots.
They explained that after receipt of the application and being satisfied that the said land did not belong to anyone and was free from any encumbrances, LCC unreservedly recommended them to the Commissioner of Lands for the issuance of offer letters.
“The Commissioner of Lands after receipt of the recommendation letters from the second defendant proceeded to issue offer letters to the applicants inclusive of the plaintiffs herein. The first to third plaintiffs will say that upon receipt of the offer letters from Ministry of Lands, they proceeded to obtain Certificates of Title and the forth to fifth plaintiffs still hold valid offer letters,” the complainants said.
They stated that after obtaining title to the pieces of land in question, they proceeded to develop the said land.
“The first plaintiff built a house, the second erected a wall fence around her property, the third also erected a wall fence around her property, the forth plaintiff built a house and the fifth plaintiff erected a wall fence and a house which was at window level,” the plaintiffs submitted.
The five stated that around December last year, Lusambo acting in his official capacity went to Munali Ward 33 and instructed the head teacher for Munali Secondary School to demolish the structures that were on their pieces of land claiming the plaintiffs were illegally occupying the land.
The five further stated that on January 5, this year Lusambo around 01:00 hours went on their properties and demolished the structures without any lawful justification.
The plaintiffs contended that their properties were the only ones demolished out of the many other properties in the said area belonging to different individuals who obtained their properties in similar circumstances as them.
The complainants said that no form of documentation or notice of demolition was given to them by Lusambo or any authority responsible for demolition of property which was wrongly or illegally erected.
They stated that LCC neglected to inform Lusambo that the land in question was legally obtained by them after following all the requirements of the law from the time they approached the local authority with the intention to purchase the said land.
“The plaintiffs will say that because of second defendant’s failure to correctly advise the Minister of Lusaka Province, the Minister ordered for the demolition of the plaintiffs property. By reason of the aforesaid demolition occasioned by the Minister of Lusaka Province, the plaintiffs have suffered loss and damage,” the five contended.