20 December 2012

Tanzania: Court Summons RC Bendera for Contempt

THE Land Division of the High Court has issued summons for the Morogoro Regional Commissioner, Mr Joel Bendera, and four others, to answer charges of contempt of court by evicting residents from Kilombero and Ulanga valleys in the region.

Mr Bendera and the other four, including District Commissioners for Kilombero and Ulanga districts, are required to report at the court on February, 20, next year. This follows a decision by Morogoro regional leaders to evict residents, mostly herders, from the valley to pave way for wildlife conservation project namely Ramsey.

To appear before the court alongside Bendera, are Kilombero and Ulanga District Commissioners, Hassan Masala and Francis Nditi, respectively.

Others are police officers Aloyce Nindi and Abeid Fanje. On November 20, this year, the High Court had issued an injunction barring the government to demolish and evict about 1,994 residents from 50 villages in the two valleys, until the main case at the court was determined.

The case was filed at the court on October 31, this year by Godfrey Luena, Zablon Mkwage, John Masele and Elia Mtupili and 2,019 others, against the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism as well as the Attorney General, resisting eviction without being compensated.

Judge Atuganile Ngwala issued the summons yesterday, noting that the leaders had defied the court by not heeding to the injunction which had ordered them to stop the eviction. The judge said the regional leaders should appear at the court since they had breached the law by disrespecting the order.

According to records at the High Court, Mr Bendera and the other leaders had already been served with the summons on December 17 and 18, this year. The residents in the two valleys, who are represented by lawyers from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), are contesting a decision by the government to evict them from their homes without compensation.

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