FIVE Lusaka residents have sued the State and Lusaka City Council (LCC) in the Lusaka High Court seeking a declaration that they are legal owners of the land that Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo alleged that they occupied illegally.

Emmanuel Mulenga, Yvonne Sinkala, Charity Mututubanya, Makabe Jere and Nanyatonya Ngambi are also seeking damages for demolition of structures on their land by Lusambo and damages for mental stress and anguish.

The five plaintiffs also want an order for compensation for the demolished structures, costs and any other relief the court may deem fit.

They have sued the Attorney General and LCC as first and second defendants respectively.

In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court Principal Registry, March 3, this year, the five stated 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 stated 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 fourth to fifth plaintiffs still hold valid offer letters,” read the statement of claim.

The five stated that after obtaining title to the respective pieces of land, 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 fourth plaintiff built a house and the fifth plaintiff erected a wall fence and a house, which was on window level,” read the statement of claim further.

The plaintiffs 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 because 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 claimed that their properties were the only ones demolished out of the many others in the said area belonging to different individuals who obtained their properties in similar circumstances as them.

They stated that no form of documentation or notice of demolition was given to them by the Minister or any authority responsible for demolition of property which was wrongly or illegally erected.

The Plaintiffs 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,” read the statement of claim.