Legal Services Facility > Our Heroes > Gender-based Violence > She refused to be bullied by her village

She refused to be bullied by her village


Clotilda Dominic of Kasaka village in Kibondo, Kigoma, arranges bricks with her sons on a plot of land she owns but was nearly claimed by village authorities who wanted to build the village office on it against formal protocols.

Land disputes account for the largest share of cases encountered and solved by paralegals in most parts of the country and in most of these cases women are at the receiving end of all injustices around the subject.

It’s very encouraging, though to note that, the existing Access to Justice Program that LSF is implementing countrywide makes a tremendous contribution to the realization of justice for thousands of people, especially women, who find themselves entangled in a web of conflicts that would otherwise deny them of the right to unhindered ownership of land.

Clotilda Dominic is a widow living in Kasaka village, Kibondo district (Kigoma) who found herself in the middle of a land dispute against her village government after the death of her husband.

Japhet Lazaro, a paralegal in Kibondo district, tells us that the village took over the Clotilda’s land on grounds that its location in the centre was ideal for building the village office and setting aside its grounds for official use.

“Clotilda came to our office to report her plot of land that had been invaded by her village authorities. She told us that she and her husband, a former teacher, acquired the land back in 1969 when the area was still a forest prior to being designated a village.” Lazaro says.

He (Lazaro) further explains that Clotilda sought help everywhere possible including the land department but no to avail until she (Clotilda) reached paralegal unit in Kibondo, where they began to pursue the matter by looking various documents including official letters written to her regarding the matter but upon close, it was discovered that they were fraudulent.

“What we did was to bring together her family and the village officers and after deliberating on the issue it was unanimously accepted that the land in question did indeed belong to her. They had snatched it from her unjustly and had in fact no legal right to do so, and with that conclusion the officers agreed to make a formal declaration before the entire village that the land was hers and she would no longer be subjected to any form of harassment”. Lazaro explains.

The village authorities in this case had misused their power to suppress an old woman and her family and thereby lay claim to prime land that would otherwise never become communal property.

The village authorities in this case had misused their power to suppress an old woman and her family and thereby lay claim to prime land that would otherwise never become communal property.

The intervention of paralegals once again put an end to unfairness and upheld a widow’s right.  The decision to return the land to Clotilda was also driven by the fact that in the time that she and her husband maintained the land they had planted scores of eucalyptus trees which the village didn’t have the wherewithal to compensate.

Felix Kabuti, the current in-office village chair, says when he took office in 2012 he found the dispute still quite raw and he sought clarification with the aim of bringing it to a swift end.

“I was informed that Clotilda and her late husband had lived here for many years and that the land was certainly theirs. With that confirmation and having been told the history of the couple here I maintained the view that it’s her property and if at all the village desired to build its office on it then it can only be through Clotilda’s courtesy and goodwill and nothing else. I’m happy that the conflict is confined to history and all hostility is permanently gone”, the current Kasaka village chair says.

To date Clotilda says, she hasn’t faced any threats or harassment even though the village office sits just a stone’s throw from her house.

“I feel much at ease; I can now sleep unlike before when I would wake up in the dead of night asking myself what would become of this property. I have sons and grandchildren and my wish is to see them build their own homes right here and continue to live happily. I’m deeply grateful to paralegals for the assistance they extended to me, I’m very, very thankful”, Clotilda concludes.

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