GRACE CHAILE-LESOETSA Writes
LAFARGE Zambia Plc has sued the Commissioner of Lands, Kafue District Council and another for land encroachment on its property situated in Shimabala measuring 63.2310 hectares.
The company alleges that in 2017, the Commissioner of Lands approved for numbering the new residential and small holding plots created on its land.
Lafarge Zambia PLC has sued in the Lusaka High Court the Attorney General (Commissioner of Lands), Kafue District Council and Zambia Police Thrift and Credit Corporative Society Limited as first, second and third defendants respectively.
It is now seeking a declaration that it is the legal and rightful owner of land which is No. 16326/M situated in Shimabala measuring 63.2310 hectares.
It is seeking an order that Commissioner of Lands and Kafue District Council provide details of all subdivisions created on its Land which is plot No. 16326/M and that the same be cancelled with immediate effect.
Lafarge Zambia is also seeking an order that Zambia Police Thrift and Credit Corporative Society Limited removes its fence erected on its Land and that the portion of the said defendant’s (Zambia Police Thrift and Credit Corporative Society Limited) land extending into its property be cancelled with immediate effect.
The plaintiff further seeks an order of interim injunction restraining the three defendants from any further transactions on its property until final determination of the matter, costs and any other relief that the Court may deem fit.
In the claim, Lafarge Zambia stated in June 2004, the Ministry of Lands issued them with a certificate of title for a piece of land situated in Shimabala which Land neighbours Zambia Police Thrift and Credit Corporative Society Limited’s land.
It however stated that in February 2015, the Commissioner of Lands working in conjunction with the Kafue District Council approved for the erroneous cancellation of among others, Lot No. 16326/M which belongs to it and the re-planning of the same and remaining of extent of Farm 456A into a Police Farm.
Lafarge Zambia stated that after the re-planning was commenced, in October 2017, the Commissioner of Lands approved for numbering the new residential and small holding plots created.
“All that piece of land in extent 63.2310 which happens to be the plaintiff’s (Lafarge Zambia) mining reserve as a result of the re-planning and numbering, was drastically reduced from its original size, leaving only a hill,” reads the claim.
The plaintiff said that the Commissioner of Lands and the Council’s conduct was unjust, and was done without any notice being given to Lafarge Zambia who is the rightful and beneficial owner of the property in question.
Lafarge Zambia claimed that it holds title for the premises which is the true evidence of ownership.
It stated that around December 2017, it discovered that there was an intrusion on the land and unauthorized activities such as fence erection and clearing of the land by Zambia Police Thrift and Credit Corporative Society Limited whom it approached and later served a Notice of Encroachment.
Lafarge Zambia Plc stated that Zambia Police Thrift and Credit Corporative Society Limited through their advocates Mumba Malila & Partners on December 11, 2017 replied to its notice and sought that it resolves the matter amicably and give them sufficient time to enable them to obtain instructions from their clients.
It claimed that it received no response from either the lawyers or their client over the matter despite several efforts to do so.
Lafarge Zambia stated that it wrote to the Commissioner of Lands on May 24, 2018 informing them and seeking their indulgence on Zambia Police Thrift and Credit Corporative Society Limited’s encroachment, without being aware that several subdivisions had been created to other unknown persons.
It stated that it was only after subsequent meetings with personnel at the Ministry of Lands that it was informed of the erroneous cancellation and re-planning of Lot No. 16326/M as well as the existence of the other subdivisions, which to this date do not appear on its title even with a search from the Ministry of Lands.
The plaintiff stated that it would show at court that the restoration of its land to its original form and size was cardinal as the said land was a mining reserve for lime stone, which was the main element in the production of cement which is its core business.
“Being a mining reserve, the plaintiff requires enough land to have a safety buffer between the limestone extraction and any human or life existence around the area thus the current adjusted space shall not be convenient and shall temper with the operations of the plaintiff Company which has been in existence since 1949,” it stated.
Lafarge Zambia bemoaned that as a result, it has suffered injustice as there has been interference with the use and enjoyment of its land as beneficial and sole owner.