Habitat in noble crusade
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.