By Staycey Yalo – EMTV News, Port Moresby
Claims of ownership over a portion of land at 16 Mile, along the Sogeri Road, has seen five houses belonging to Koiari landowner families destroyed. They are now forced to move.
Konima Tom from the Behori clan said his house along with all his belongings and a small chicken coop were destroyed by police.
The families strongly argued that the land is customary. However, Port Moresby resident, Felix Kange has documents to prove he is the land owner. Mr Kange’s lawyer Federick Lunge, presented titles and court documents verifying this information.
The Koiari families were unhappy with the manner in which they were forcefully evicted by police on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
According to documents obtained by EMTV, the land portion 2210 was acquired as a state lease in the 90’s by Pundia Kange and the title was transferred to his son Felix Kange in 2016.
However, according to a Koiari landowner Max Maiva Tom, that portion of land had reverted back to a customary land and was registered under the Behori Incorporation Land Group, after Mr Kange had failed to develop it.
Speaking for Mr Kange, his lawyer told EMTV that he could not develop the land because people have been squatting there and a forced eviction was necessary.
In August 2017, Kange obtained a district court order in Port Moresby to evict the defendants (Koiari families) by the end of June 2018 but this did not eventuate as they refused to move.
Copies of letters from 15 Mile police station, Central Provincial Commander, Superintendent Laimo Asi, and Assistant Commissioner of Police Division Commander, NCD/Central revealed that the grace period had lapsed and support units were authorised to execute the eviction and fencing of the land according to the district court order.
The landowners however are not satisfied and have called on the authorities to look into the matter.
“We are calling on the Lands Minister and the Land Board to stop people from acquiring customary land by force. In the history of our people, we have not had outsiders coming to evict us by force like this,” said Max Maiva Tom.
EMTV News’ attempts to contact Lands Minister, Justin Tkatchenko’s office this week to get comments, were unsuccessful.