Sogi elder tells all

The hearing of the Tokuma Family land claim at Sogi against the Samoa Land Corporation continued yesterday.

The matter was adjourned from last week for the lawyers to have their submissions on whether the evidence of hearsay is admissible and relevant.

Justice Leiataualesa Daryl Clarke is presiding.

When the hearing proceeded yesterday, Liutofagaomataafa Nanai Tokuma took the stand to tell their story about the land they claim is rightfully theirs. 

“Every time my father, the late Turaroa Tokuma finishes work, he would tell me to go with him to the mangroves to get crabs and so it’s there that he would tell me these stories,” Nanai told the Court.

“This was when I was about 12 to 13 years old. My father passed away on September 5, 1957.”

Lawyer representing the Turaroa descendants, Pau Tafaogalupe Mulitalo, questioned Nanai if he had remembered what his father told him.

“My father said that one night while he was driving from Vaitele heading to Sogi, he got to Lepea and he heard noises coming from inside the Chinese businessman’s shop.

“He said he just drove by and when he got home, the old lady who was there asked my father of his whereabouts.

“My father told her that he was at Vaitele. Not long after my father arrived home, Police officers came to his house again and arrested him and they took him away.

“On the following Monday, a trial was held and the decision came and said that my father was to be hanged because he was the one who killed the Chinese businessman.”

According to Nanai, his father told him that he was ready for the execution.

“Everything was ready for the execution on that day, but somehow two Chinese men interrupted the Court and told them that Turaroa didn’t kill the Chinese businessman, but it was them who did it.

“So that’s how my father became innocent of that matter.”

Nanai said while growing up, his mother told him about the land that they live on.

“My mother told me when she saw that we were growing up, she told our father to ask the late Percival Patrick, who was the head of the Government S.T.E.C. at the time, for a place to build a house for us.

“She said Mr. Patrick showed them the land at the back and told them to build a house at the back.

“They went and cleaned up the whole space and cut the grass and then they built a house there.

“That is what I was told by my mother. But one thing I do know is that our parents had never told us that the land in question belongs to us or it is our land, no; they never said anything like that.”

During cross examination, lawyer Tafailagi Peniamina of the Attorney General’s Office, who represented the Samoa Land Corporation and the Ministry of Public Enterprise, asked the plaintiff whether his testimony was all from his late father.

“So you weren’t there when these things happened? You were only 12 to 13 years old when your father told you these?

“So your mother was the one who was talking to Mata’afa? You weren’t there when the event they were talking about happened?”

Nanai responded “yes”.

Ms. Tafailagi then asked Nanai about his testimony where the late Patrick Earnest Percival offered them the land they claimed.

“Patrick Percival was the one who showed your parents the land that you and your family are living on?

“Do you know if he had the authority to give you this land?”

Nanai said he doesn’t know.

“I don’t know about that, the only thing I know is that he was the one who was looking after the Government S.T.E.C. at this time,” Nanai told the Court.

“He only told us to go and build a house on the land in question,” he added. 

“So he only told you guys to go build a house on this land?” Ms. Tafailagi asked.

Justice Leiataualesa questioned Nanai about the land.

“What land are you referring to,” asked Justice Leiataualesa.

“Sogi is quite a large place but where about is the land that you are referring to?”

Nanai said the land in question is where the Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi Building is and there is a road that goes to the back.

“The land at the back is right next to the T.A.T.T.E. building,” he responded. “It’s right behind the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.”

Justice Leiataualesa then asked the plaintiff whether they had any survey conducted on the land in preparation of the matter.

“Did you prepare a survey of this land prior to this case,” asked Justice Leiataualesa.

“Did you engage a surveyor to prepare a survey for this case?

“To your knowledge, has your family or your parents ever engaged a surveyor to survey this land in question?’

Nanai said nothing was done.

“All our lives we had never had any surveyor come around to conduct a survey on the land,” he said.

“Our parents never mentioned anything as well about surveys conducted on the land in question.”

Nanai was also asked whether he knows the boundaries for the land.

“What do you say are the boundaries of the land in question,” asked Justice Leiataualesa.

“Are there any other people living on the land that you claim?

“What do you say are the boundaries of those 40 to 50 acres, because there are businesses, hotels and some families located there?

“It includes the petrol tanks, hotels and people residing there as well.

“Are there any other businesses or family included in the land that you are claiming?”

According to Nanai, the land in question is about 40 to 50 acres.

“At the moment it’s just us and some families,” he said. “The only business is where the T.A.T.T.E. Building is.

“So it goes all the way to the back where the Tanoa is right now, we used that land for our plantation and it is included in the land that we are claiming.”

How long have you been living at Sogi?

“All my life and I am 78 years old now.”

Nanai also told the Court that he and his siblings have been living in the area all their lives.

“Since you live there prior to these proceedings before the Court, have you or your family taken any legal proceedings in respect of these other people for instant T.A.T.T.E., Government or Tanoa,” asked Justice Leiataualesa.

Nanai said they haven’t had any proceedings before Court against other businesses.

The matter continues today with the final submissions.

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