Court issues eviction order, family remains defiant

The Supreme Court has issued an order to evict the Tokuma family from Sogi with the order dated 14th February 2020 signed by Justice Mata Keli Tuatagaloa.

The ex-parte interim prohibition order instructs that Aiga Tokuma and her family of Sogi are prohibited from trespassing the Samoa Land Corporation land. 

“That the defendants are restrained from interfering at any time with Government works being carried out on the Land commencing from the date of this Order and/or until further orders of the Court,” states the order.

The eviction order was served by Police this week to Ms. Tokuma. It was accompanied by a letter from the Attorney General’s Office, signed by Assistant Attorney General, Sefo Ainu’u, on behalf of the Samoa Land Corporation.

The letter, written in Samoan and also dated 14th February 2020, urged Ms. Tokuma and her family to vacate the land as per the Court order.

A translation of the letter from the Office of the Attorney General reads that the Samoa Land Corporation had tried numerous times to survey the land but the family interfered.

The letter informed the Tokuma family that work on the land was to begin on Monday 17th February 2020.

“To avoid any charges against you and your family members we advise that you do not interfere with the works and any work related to the land,” a translation of the letter reads.

“If there continues to be interference, the Ministry of Police will be informed to carry out their duties and execute the Supreme Court Order.”

Furthermore, the Office of the Attorney General urged the family to seek legal assistance to help them with their matter that will be called on  9th March in the Supreme Court.

When the Samoa Observer visited Ms. Tokuma and her family yesterday, the 69-year-old mother confirmed that her family had been served with the letter. 

She said they have had repeated visits from the Police and S.L.C. in recent days.

“They brought papers and a summon [letter] for me to sign but I refused,” said the grandmother. 

“I told them to take their papers with them. I did not look at it and I refused to. No one will chase me and my family out of my own land, my own home. If anything they are the ones trespassing on my land.” 

Unhappy with what she claims to be threats from the Government, Ms. Tokuma said she will not give in for what her ancestor had worked hard to build for his children. 

As she held up a photo of her grandfather, pictured with more than 20 other men who claimed to be slaves during the days of the German colonial administration, Ms. Tokuma said, “I will fight for what he had fought for. Our home, our freedom.”  

She recalled that the lands they live on was a swamp and it was her ancestor that developed the land with his bare hands. 

“We were poor in those days and this land is not only a reminder but a token of my grandfather’s sweat from his hard labour,” she said. 

“My ancestor was a slave and had worked the land in the German’s colonial times and up to the New Zealand administration. 

“His service to this country is older than our Independence celebration and those laws [they referred to]…we are not bad people, we are just fighting for our home, our lives.”  

She estimated the size of the land to be some 50 acres in size.

Told about a Court order to evict her family and concerns of the Police becoming involved, Ms. Tokuma said: “Let them come and clear the land and bury us here. The Government cannot compensate my father’s labour work and his slavery. I’m telling you, we are not the bad people, this is our home.” 

An email sent to the S.L.C. C.E.O. was not responded to by press time. 

There are about 20 members including children as young as three of the Tokuma family that remain on the Sogi lands. 

The majority of the people who occupied the disputed land have accepted an offer from the Government to relocate to Tafaigata. 

The disputed land is where the new Savalalo market will be constructed. 

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