5 Sep 2002

Fiji villagers warned about forcible expulsions of tenants

11:21 am on 5 September 2002

Villagers in Fiji who forcefully evicted tenants off their land when their leases had expired are being warned to stop their illegal actions.

Semi Tabakanalagi, the deputy manager of the Native Lands Trust Board, says officers will be going to Lautoka to discuss the situation with the villagers who were armed with cane knives when they forced five families out of their homes.

Mr Tabakanalagi says a letter has been sent to the landowners warning them that what they've been doing is illegal and further action may be needed.

"Basically, we can even take them to task if they continually disregard our advice. We can seek an injunction to stop them from doing it if we need to but that is the last option because we are supposed to be their trustees. You know the last thing you would be doing is taking your beneficiaries to court again so basically we are trying to have a few meetings and then everything was resolved"

Mr Tabakanalagi says if the landowners don't want to renew the leases, the families will be relocated to a residential or agricultural subdivision.

And, he says any written assurances given to the evicted families by the lands department that leases will be renewed, are null and void now that the land comes under the NLTB.