Family fights Govt. eviction in Court

By Deidre Tautua – Fanene 26 February 2018, 12:00AM

The fight by a Sogi family to stop the Government from evicting them from land they claim as their inheritance is continuing.

The Tokuma family of Sogi have taken their fight to the Court. 

Yesterday, the matter was called for hearing before Supreme Court Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke.

Representing the descendants of Turaroe Tokuma is lawyer, Pa’u Tafaogalupe Mulitalo. Tafailagi Peniamina of the Attorney General’s Office represented the Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) and the Ministry of Public Enterprises.  

Nanai Liutofagaomataafa Tokuma, the son of the late Turaroe Tokuma, from the Solomon Islands and the late Ulalemamae Leiataua, took the stand yesterday.

“I’m not sure why my father came to Samoa in the first place but all I know is that he was the driver for Patrick Percival, the head of the Germans at that time,” said Nanai, 77.

“My father was the driver for this man in the 1920s.”

Pa’u asked Nanai if he remembered what happened to his father in the 1920s.

“My father was accused of killing a Chinese businessman at his shop, but at the end it wasn’t him,” said Nanai. “My father told me this because I wasn’t born during that time.

“He was arrested and detained and then some men came and told the Court at the time that it was them who killed this Chinese businessman.”

It was then that Ms. Peniamina objected to the witness’s testimony saying that what Nanai is telling the Court is not relevant.

“Your Honor, what the witness is saying is all hearsay,” said Ms. Peniamina. “He wasn’t there during the time of the incident; he was not born at the time, so what he’s telling the Court is all hearsay.”

However, Mr. Mulitalo argued that this is irrelevant because given the length of time, there is no evidence found in the police records.

Justice Leiataualesa then called both counsels to chambers.

When the matter was called afterwards, Justice Leiataulesa adjourned it to 8 March at 10 am. 

“Nanai Tokuma, the counsels for the respondent, objected to evidence that you’re giving on the basis that it is hearsay evidence, and that there is no reasonable truth that the hearsay evidence that you are giving is reliable,” said Justice Leiataualesa.

“As it appears, the evidence that you are giving relates to a matter prior to your birth.

“Now I want to hear from counsels on the respect of the objection and counsels also need to make submission on the matter so that I can rule appropriately.

“And I understand that these matters are important to the respondent’s case.

“So this matter has been adjourned to next week Thursday March 8, 2018 at 10 am to hear counsels objecting to your evidence and then after we will continue with your hearing.”

Outside Court, lawyer Pa’u Mulitalo said the matter has been adjourned because of the issue of admissibility and reliability.

“This is how the Court sees the development of today (yesterday), for somebody who was born in the 1940s giving evidence on something that happened in the 1920s.

“So the Court wants profound evidence to prove that there was a murder or any criminal records in relation to this incident rather than Tokuma telling the story that was passed on by his parents.

“To the Court’s opinion that is hearsay. So the Court has given us counsels the chance to put forward our submission on reliability of evidence, for example we have to look and obtain profound evidence from the police.”

To Pa'u this is a challenge.

“This is a real challenge because of the length of time involved considering the colonial period Samoa was on at that time, so it’s a real challenge,” he said.

“Justice Clarke will make a ruling next week Thursday on this issue of reliability and admissibility in relation to the murder and the execution relation to Turaroe Tokuma.

“However, parts of the evidence that Nanai Tokuma met the late Prime Minister Mata’afa can continue because he was there. So it’s just the murder part that is the issue today that relates to the issue of hearsay.”

The Tokuma family claims that the land they live on now in Sogi was gifted to their predecessor, Turore Tokuma, by the then Commissioner of Crown Estates of Samoa who was also the Public Trustee and a member of the Legislative Council of Samoa, the late Percival Ernest Patrick in the 1920s.  

The late Turore Tokuma was a driver and was treated as a member of the household of Mr. Patrick.   

The family also claims the gifted land they now occupy was given to their predecessor and his wife and children in recognition of his “service, loyalty and compensation for the execution that almost killed Mr. Tokuma for the crime he did not commit”. 

The Tokuma family is arguing that their continuous occupation of the same land was endorsed by the first Prime Minister of Samoa, Mataafa Fiame Mulinu’u. 

By Deidre Tautua – Fanene 26 February 2018, 12:00AM

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