Habi­tat in no­ble cru­sade

Lesotho Times - - News - Retha­bile Pitso

Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity Le­sotho (HFHL) has em­barked on a coun­try­wide cam­paign to en­cour­age ba­sotho to legally pro­tect their prop­erty.

ac­cord­ing to the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s Na­tional Di­rec­tor, ‘Mathabo Makuta, many ba­sotho were fall­ing vic­tim to land-grab­bing and dis­in­her­i­tance by fam­ily mem­bers due to the ab­sence of le­gal doc­u­ments such as wills or leases, which pro­tect one’s prop­erty from such un­scrupu­lous rel­a­tives in the event of death.

it was in light of such un­for­tu­nate de­vel­op­ments that Habi­tat de­cided to go on the coun­try­wide drive in an ef­fort to em­power the na­tion, Ms Makuta said.

HFHL seeks to pro­vide shel­ter for low­in­come fam­i­lies and vul­ner­a­ble groups by build­ing sim­ple, de­cent, and af­ford­able houses in ad­di­tion to rais­ing aware­ness about hous­ing, prop­erty own­er­ship, and in­her­i­tance rights.

Regis­tered as a non-govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion in Le­sotho in 2001, HFHL be­gan by erect­ing 143 sin­gle to three-bed­roomed houses and pit la­trines in nine of the 10 dis­tricts of Le­sotho un­der the Low­in­come Hous­ing pro­gramme.

How­ever, the pro­gramme was aban­doned in 2007 when HFHL changed its strat­egy to pro­vid­ing hous­ing to or­phaned and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren.

“Since we started work­ing with vul­ner­a­ble groups, we have iden­ti­fied the need for ba­sotho to pro­tect their prop­erty against dis­in­her­i­tance. We have en­coun­tered many in­ci­dents where chil­dren have been left home­less be­cause of the ab­sence of doc­u­men­ta­tion which would give them le­git­i­mate ac­cess to their par­ents’ prop­er­ties,” Ms Makuta said.

“Our or­gan­i­sa­tion has since in­volved law cus­to­di­ans such as chiefs and coun­cilors to ob­tain proper doc­u­men­ta­tion for the chil­dren we wish to as­sist. but we have also noted this is a com­mon trend among ba­sotho hence our de­ci­sion to em­bark on a largescale cam­paign to warn com­mu­ni­ties against this ten­dency.”

Ms Makuta fur­ther noted her or­gan­i­sa­tion had part­nered with var­i­ous ex­perts to as­sist with the cam­paign.

“be­cause our man­date stops at build­ing houses, we have part­nered with or­gan­i­sa­tions that can help pro­vide other ne­ces­si­ties such as food and at­tend to other so­cial needs,” she said.

“We have part­nered with Econet tele­com Le­sotho to as­sist us com­mu­ni­cate the mes­sage across the coun­try. We also in­vite or­gan­i­sa­tions such as World Vi­sion and Min­istry of So­cial Devel­op­ment to as­sist with other so­cial is­sues.

“We are also in talks with law ex­perts who could of­fer in­for­ma­tion to ba­sotho about pro­ce­dures to fol­low to ob­tain a will or lease.

“We have also learnt that there are some peo­ple who hold Form C doc­u­ments in­stead of leases which are legally rec­og­nized be­fore the law. again, it has come to our at­ten­tion that many peo­ple fail to pay sur­vey­ors who can tran­si­tion their Form C doc­u­ments into a lease. So through the cam­paign, we also urge any­one who could as­sist pay such costs, to do so.”

a will or tes­ta­ment is a le­gal doc­u­ment by which a per­son ex­presses his or her wishes as to how his or her prop­erty is to be dis­trib­uted at death, and names one or more per­sons, the ex­ecu­tor, to man­age the estate un­til its fi­nal dis­tri­bu­tion.

“We urge ba­sotho who still have tran­si­tional doc­u­ments such as a Form C to con­vert them into leases. We also urge them to ob­tain a will to show how their prop­erty would be dis­trib­uted amongst their ben­e­fi­cia­ries. When a will is in place, it be­comes dif­fi­cult or even im­pos­si­ble at times, for it to be con­tested,” Ms Makuta said.

Land ad­min­is­tra­tion author­ity (Laa) Ex­ec­u­tive Man­ager tankiso Sephoso re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of a will and lease, ad­ding his or­gan­i­sa­tion has been on a con­tin­u­ous aware­ness pro­gramme re­gard­ing the is­sue since 2014.

the author­ity was es­tab­lished as an au­ton­o­mous gov­ern­ment body by the Land ad­min­is­tra­tion author­ity act 2010 to mod­ern­ize and im­prove land ad­min­is­tra­tion ser­vices and re­duce land trans­ac­tion costs and the time it takes to ac­quire or dis­pose of a lease­hold ti­tle to land.

Mr Sephoso said the Laa sup­ports HFHL with their cam­paign be­cause of the ini­tia­tive’s no­ble in­ten­tions.

“We are sup­port­ive of these aware­ness cam­paigns which seek to en­lighten ba­sotho about the im­por­tance of ob­tain­ing a lease on their prop­erty be­cause with such a doc­u­ment, land-grab­bing and land dis­putes can be eas­ily dealt with,” Mr Sephoso said, ad­ding the Laa un­der­stood the chal­lenges many ba­sotho face when mak­ing a tran­si­tion from Form C to a lease.

“a Form C doc­u­ment does not hold the same le­gal weight as a lease. a lease is regis­tered by Laa while for a Form C to be rec­og­nized, the prop­erty has to be sur­veyed by an ac­cred­ited sur­veyor who will then be given proof of sur­vey by Laa. So the sur­vey­ors can be quite ex­pen­sive,” he said.

Habi­tat For Hu­man­ity Le­sotho Na­tional Di­rec­tor ‘Mathabo Makuta.

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