15 February 2013

Rwanda: City Doctor, Rubavu District in Court Over Land

Rubavu authorities have contested a court award in which Kigali City doctor Pierre Celestin Kanimba was awarded right of land and the district ordered to pay the squatters the doctor intends to evict.

Dr Kanimba is the proprietor of a polyclinic, La Medicale, near St Famille Church in downtown Kigali.

The appeal, which also involves eight families that currently occupy the contested land, was filed following a ruling by Musanze High Court that awarded compensation of over Rwf400m to the families for their eviction.

In a previous hearing, the court had ordered Dr Kanimba to compensate the squatters on the contested land. However, following an appeal, the decision was overturned, subsequently asking the district to pay the families.

The families claim they have property worth more than Rwf200m on the land in contention, which was given to them by the district in 1996.

However, yesterday, Rubavu logged a counter appeal before the Supreme Court, with Theophile Mbonera, an attorney representing the district, proposing to Dr Kanimba two options: either to accept another hectare of land elsewhere or to compensate occupants and repossess the land in dispute.

However, Dr Kanimba, through his lawyer Beatrice Umubyeyi, maintained that the district has to compensate occupants and evict them.

Contentious issue

The bone of contention is the compound of a former school owned by one Seraphin Rwabukumba and was auctioned after he allegedly failed to pay a loan he acquired from former Banque Continentale Africaine du Rwanda (BACAR), now Fina Bank.

The contention only concerns a hectare of land around the school, while the other six hectares within the former school's compound are not affected, and are owned by Dr Kanimba.

Dr Kanimba, who first filed the case against the occupants in 2010, sought a court order to demolish the property on the land. He lost the case, with the court telling him that if he needed his land back, he would have to compensate the eight occupants.

The defendant's attorney Umubyeyi said her client cannot compensate the families, because the land was illegally awarded to the occupants.

In supporting her argument, the lawyer said that there was no way the district could not have known the land belonged to Kanimba, because they had handled the transfer of the land title from the former school to him through BACAR.

Acknowledging that the case was complex, the presiding judge adjourned the hearing to April 5.

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