Paralegals assist elderly woman to reclaim land from rich neighbour

03Sep 2019
The Guardian
Paralegals assist elderly woman to reclaim land from rich neighbour

AN 85-year-old Amina Kirua owns six-acre farm in Korogwe district, Tanga region.

She is one of the victims of land grabbing in the agricultural-rich district, whose people rely on farming as the main source of income and food.

Amina, a mother of two bought the land from her neighbour more than 25 years ago.

As it is to many people in Tanzania’s rural settings, Amina depends solely on farming to earn income to sustain herself and take care of her family.

So, the old woman has been engaging in subsistence farming for decades in that six-acre farm, where she grows a wide-range of food crops.

One time, Amina was busy attending to one of her children, who fell sick, the situation that forced her to stop from attending her farm as she used to do for almost two months.

After that period, the woman went to her farm only to find it’s invaded by her neighbour who claimed to be the owner of the land. A battle over the land ownership erupted and intensified and Amina was advised to lodge a case at Old-Korogwe Land Tribunal.

“Following the verdict, I lost the land but I did not give up, because I knew that’s my property which I bought with my own money,” said Amina, adding:

“I was also advised to seek legal advice from paralegals in this area. I talked to one of the paralegals, Maimuna Hosea for help, who assisted me to prepare the necessary documents. I lodged an appeal at the District land and housing tribunal and I won the case.”

“Since then, the neighbor accepted defeat and has not disturbed up to now,” said Yahaya Seif, Korogwe paralegal who led a team of paralegals who assisted Amina to recover her property.

Seif said: “Specific and special legal aid services should be extended to the elderly in rural areas throughout the country, who are at the threat of being driven out of their land because of their poverty and illiteracy.”

One of the activists in the area Ramadhan Mweli said: “Actions must be taken--at the local to the national levels, to protect poor women and men from land grabbing.”

He said that Amina is one of many women in Tanzania who are the victims of land grabbing and being denied their rights to own properties including land for whatever reasons.

“Elderly women are the main victims of these land-related problems,” said land expert charity Mugabi in a recent study.

He says: “Current national land policies and approaches have not been able to resolve these problems.”