Thursday, March 23, 2023

‘Mistaken identity’ plot gives landboard headache

In a most unusual case from Mochudi, two people are laying claim to the same residential plot. The first is the rightful owner; the second isn’t but has built a house on the plot reportedly by mistake because it adjoins one he bought from somebody else.

The rightful owner is not willing to compromise and now wants the key to the house. This is going to cause a complication because legally the house belongs to him because it was built on his property.

Making the matter even more interesting is the fact that the second claimant is an employee of the Kgatleng Land Board who was based in Mochudi at the time of this development. The first claimant is Reginald Letamo who, smelling a rat, reported the matter to the police but to no avail.

“They told me that in matters that involve land, they only intervene when they are invited by the landboard,” he says.

Letamo was allocated the Plot 276 in Makgophana ward in 2009 at which time he had become very well-acquainted with the applicant (a lady) who came before him on the allocation list. He says that his plan had been to develop the plot this year but has had to put it on hold because he found a one-room house on the property. On the basis of the information he had, he tracked down the builder who referred him to a man who had hired him to build the house on what he was led to believe was the latter’s plot. It turned out that both builder and plot owner were employees of the Mochudi Sub-Land Board.

Letamo did meet with the second man who told him that he had bought Plot 275 but mistakenly built the one-roomed house on Plot 276. He proposed a simple swap as a solution but Letamo is refusing, primarily because he suspects some chicanery.

“That is out of the question and I will never do that,” he says.

He doesn’t suspect the builder of any dishonesty because never having believed that he was doing anything wrong, he told him the truth that led him to the new owner of Plot 275. He says that if the house had been built by the woman, then he would be dealing with her but that has never happened. He interprets this to be ample evidence that the construction started after she had sold the plot.

As Letamo points out, this would have been in contravention of a Tribal Land Act provision that says that anyone who “acquires or takes occupation of any tribal land without having an appropriate lease or a certificate issued by the land board concerned shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a fine of P10 000 and to imprisonment for one year.” As culpable would be the plot seller.

The law also prohibits sale of undeveloped plots and Letamo’s assumption is that the new owner acquired the plot before any developments were made on it and used his own resources to build the house.

The case is currently before the Mochudi Sub-Land Board which has not been able to resolve it. Letamo says that the Board has also proposed a swap but he maintained his position.

“I want the person who built the house on my property to surrender the key to the Land Board which in turn should pass it on to me. Additionally he should write a letter in which he confirms and explains why he is forfeiting any claim to the house and the plot,” he says.

In the event, the other man can’t do that, Letamo wants a two-phase valuation of the property as it is now and after demolition of the house.

“After clearing the yard of the rubble, he should pay me compensation of the difference between the sums of the two valuations,” he says.


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