Greed that nearly split a family apart

Chamwino 3

Paralegal Shida Sasine, left, worked tirelessly with William Mboru and his siblings and succeeded in helping the family retain ownership through a title deed of valuable land that their sister claimed was solely her and wanted to sell.

Not too long ago tables were turned in the village of Nzali in Chamwino, Dodoma, when a woman attempted to scheme off several acres of land from her family, which had been left behind as inheritance when their parents died.

“It was unheard off because at the time that our parents passed on, she wasn’t even around to say the least, but somehow, she made a brazen claim that, they called her in and handed over the land confidentially to her.  It’s impossible, simply impossible,” says William Mboru, an energetic, talkative man in his sixties.

“Our parents were frail and as they approached the end of their lives, my siblings and I, took on the responsibilities to care for them. At that time, one of my younger sisters was married and for reasons best known to her, she never set foot here to see our parents;

“Just before they died they spoke to us, and laid out everything they needed to leave in our hands as inheritance including land that totals two-and-a-half acres, on which their graves lie today and another close to a hundred acres, on which we grow crops. Strangely though this, one sister concocted a claim that, our parents had assigned to her all the land, and that none of us had any claim to it”, recalls William.

A protracted legal battle ensued. Common occurrence has it that such conflicts are started by men, because in most Tanzanian societies they are at the front of the queue and traditionally have an advantage over women, but this was a different case.

A woman was determined to tie her brothers and sisters in knots, in an attempt to appropriate family land and sell it off. Her son had apparently floated to her the idea that, because of the land’s proximity to the main road, it would fetch a huge sum if sold, and she immediately bought into the idea.

The local ward executive, Benedicto Noti, was informed and in handling the case, he called in Shida Sasine and one other paralegal who live and work in the village and surrounding areas.

“This issue had the hallmarks of a serious case and after examining it, I was convinced it had to be attended to in court, and that’s when I involved the paralegals because we work so well with them,” says the executive.

The court ruled that, the case wasn’t criminal and as such it should have been handled at the ward and village levels. Sasine and her colleague provided legal education and advice, and contacted the village land council, and carve out the land according to the number of family members.

Today William’s sister lives in the family compound inside the very plot of land that she intended to acquire and sell off.

“We have no problems with her whatsoever, because we feel she had simply been overtaken by greed, and was blinded to the fact that, her scheme was impossible to pull off. Her marriage ended and we allowed her to return and live with us. She maintains a distance with us, but that doesn’t bother me much because after all, she was the source of the problem”, says William.

He explains that, since the court battle ended they have cultivated corn, chickpeas and millet and with the proceeds of their land, they are able to keep the family’s children in school and meeting many other vital needs at home.

He says life is trouble-free and that permits him and the rest of the family to remain focused on their agricultural pursuit’s year in year out.

“There’s the serious problem of our community not knowing and understanding the law, and more importantly observing it. Those of us leading the cause of legal education and legal aid must remain at the forefront and never tire of helping vulnerable citizens that we live with. I believe that, whenever, we put our collective efforts together, we will certainly build better communities and consequently a better society”, adds Sasine.

Noti reiterates that, land presents the most common source of conflicts in the locality, however, working side by side with vital stakeholders in justice, especially paralegals has always helped solve even case that initially seemed too complex.

Such developments reflect on the progressive role these men and women play in grassroots communities across the country, helping deliver justice and exposing millions of people to their rights before the law.

Readily-available legal aid and education promotes social cohesion and reduces the impact that poverty has on many rural communities, which are at the centre of LSF’s countrywide Access to Justice Program.

Like hundreds of others, William’s family today isn’t merely another positive statistic, but more importantly a group of people better equipped to live free of conflict and with an open road to a happier tomorrow.

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