Villagers appeal Court order to leave Leauva’a

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 27 February 2019, 12:00AM

Eighteen families who were ordered by the Land and Titles Court in December last year to vacate land at Leauva’a, which they occupied for years, are appealing the decision. 

One of the families involved, Tevaga Vailua said an appeal has been filed against the decision of the Land and Titles Court. 

“I cannot discuss the matter as we have filed an appeal,” Tevaga told the Samoa Observer yesterday. 

“It is a very sensitive matter for us involved and I’m sorry I cannot say anything further about it.” 

The Ministry of Justice, Courts and Administration has received the appeal application and are processing the application. 

The L.T.C. decision for the eighteen families of Leauva’a to vacate the lands was delivered December 18, 2018 following a hearing of just over a week long. 

The decision stated the eighteen families are given six months to vacate the land (from the day of decision) and are ordered to leave before June 18, 2019.  

According to the Land and Titles Court decision LC. 9480P15-P16, villagers of Afega made an application to return the land which is rightfully theirs, that is occupied by the villagers of Leauva’a. 

The reason for this is because the village population of Afega is growing hence the need of the disputed land to be returned. 

“The land is needed for plantation purposes. There are also other village developments that need implementation such as construction of school and others.”

Afega also claimed the 723 acres of land has already been allocated in 1911. However, the request was only for 100 acres of land. (Ua maea to le 723 eka ile 1911 tainane na ole 100 eka na talosagaina). 

From evidence that went before the Court for its deliberation, the two villages involved have met and agreed to set up a committee, with 10 representatives from each village. 

The village of Afega claimed they had waited for Leauva’a but it was clear Leauva’a has opposed the plan to have a committee and decided to take the matter to Court. 

However, the argument presented by Leauva’a is the application from Ali’i and Faipule of Afega is unlawful. 

The judgement LC 9480P1-P14, maintains the Ali’i and Faipule of Leauva’a can occupy the lands in Leauva’a. The judgement is no longer subject to an appeal (res-judi-cata). 

The village of Leauva’a also denies claim of an appointed committee of 10 representatives from the villages.

According to the decision, Leauva’a argued that the claim from Afega is untrue because the village has not met - it is divided. Leauva’a maintained the families in Leauva’a have the right to occupy the lands. 

Leauva’a is mainly made up of families who had to leave Savai’i when their village was affected by the Mt. Matavanu lava that erupted in 1905, and were later settled in the village of Leauva’a.

Over the years, the Leauva’a village council fought for their rights to the land. 

However, several Court decisions ruled in favour of Afega as the rightful owner of the disputed land. 

The eighteen families who are told to leave include: Fiti Pauga, Tau Naime, Togiai Alisi, Lemalu Ioane, Tuala Enele, Tui Seu, Faatoafe Faiga, Lemalu Paulo, Tuala Maleko, Muagututia Koloko, Malia Pulou, Kose Seve, Kia Viliamu, Lave Sipoloa, Tuala Sogi, Tevaga Vailua, Siaosi Sagote Malo, and Tuala Ake Malo residing on Leualesi or Vaialia Leauva’a.  

By Lanuola Tusani Tupufia – Ah Tong 27 February 2019, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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