THE Lusaka High Court has dismissed an application for an injunction by 52 Ng’ombe residents in which they wanted the court to restrain a businessman and a Tanzanian Company, Super Star Forwarders Limited, from trespassing or carrying out any activities on their alleged piece of land on Forest Reserve Farm No.28.
Lusaka High Court Judge Susan Wanjelani said in her ruling that there was no serious question to be tried nor were the 52 Ng’ombe residents’ right to relief clear.
In this matter, Lastone Kunda and 51 others have sued Lusaka businessman David Nkonde, Super Star Forwarders Limited and the Commissioner of Lands in the Lusaka High Court over their demolished houses which were at different levels.
The 52 are seeking an order of compensation arising from the illegal demolition of structures in 2013 and loss of building materials amounting to K92,020,000.
They also want an order directing the Commissioner of Lands to cancel the certificate of title no.203069 given fraudulently to Super Star Forwarders Limited.
The 52 plaintiffs further wanted an order of injunction restraining the defendants, their agents and servants from trespassing or carrying out activities on the said piece of land, among others.
But in her ruling, judge Wanjelani noted that according to the plaintiffs’ statement of claim, the demolitions were done in 2013, about seven years ago, indicating that the defendants probably had possession of the property since.
She said the plaintiffs were essentially seeking to restrain the acts that had already taken place, adding that the court could not do so.
Judge Wanjelani said the seven-year delay in acting by the plaintiffs further dispelled the notion of urgency indicated in the application.
She noted that the 52 had further made allegations of fraud, which were a basis upon which a certificate of title may be cancelled.
Judge Wanjelani, however, said not only were the plaintiffs required to plead fraud but must also supply the necessary particulars of the allegation in the pleadings, which requirement appeared to be devoid in the pleadings before her.
“Thus, there is no material upon which I may consider the allegations of fraud as a serious question to be tried and make it a possible basis for cancelation of the certificate of title later on after the trial,” she said.
Justice Wanjelani said taking into account the said facts, she found that there was no serious question to be tried nor was the plaintiffs’ right to relief clear.
“Thus, application having failed the first test, it is otiose for me to deal with the other considerations of adequacy of damages and where the balance of convenience lies. The application for an injunction is consequently dismissed,” she ruled.
According to a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, the plaintiffs had stated that they were at all material times owners of plot LUS 36921 known as N’gombe Displaced which was part of a Presidential Decree order land given to them by late President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa.
They added that Nkonde was a well-known businessman who was claiming to have been offered a Presidential Decree land by the Lands Commissioner, while the company was also claiming to have bought the said land from Nkonde.
The plaintiffs stated that in 2013, Nkonde acted with unknown persons and demolished their houses, which were at different levels, except two fully completed houses ready for occupation which were on site.
They stated that apart from the structures being demolished, they also lost their building materials such as sand, building blocks, pockets of cement, plants, roofing sheets and nails.
The plaintiffs stated that they were not served any notice or an order of eviction from any competent court at the time of illegal demolition of the existing structure.
They added that if so, they would have obliged to such authority and probably saved their building materials.
The plaintiffs further stated that Nkonde, as director at Super Star Forwarders Limited, compensated a few individuals for the structures that were illegally demolished.
They described the situation as disastrous and a huge economic loss especially that it happened at the time most of them had retired and spent all their money to build as they were displaced twice from Ng’ombe compound.
The plaintiffs stated that they were legitimate owners of the land given by Presidential Decree order in November 2003 after their displacement from Ng’ombe Catholic Land and later formed the group called Ng’ombe displaced community.
They stated that Nkonde and his company were not part of the Ng’ombe displaced group that were offered Forest reserve farm no.28 on Great North Road (SOS) village.
“The certificate of title given to Nkonde was cancelled by the Ministry of Lands after realizing that it was issued fraudulently. Super Star Forwarders Limited obtained certificate of title no.203069 which was fraudulently obtained from a cancelled certificate of title belonging to Nkonde,” read the claim.