60 homeless, homes destroyed

National, Normal


ABOUT 60 people in Morata, at the centre of a property development dispute involving a senior Member of Parliament, watched helplessly yesterday as their homes and property were bulldozed to the ground during a police-supervised surprise eviction.
Sources contacted yesterday could not confirm if the destruction of houses and property, worth more than K100,000, was legal.
A spokeswoman for the homeless group said there was a court order and eviction notice in place for them to move out of the land by Nov 12 but they had stayed on because their appeal against the eviction was already registered in the Waigani National Court.
National Capital District police chief of operations Chief Supt Andy Bawa, when contacted yesterday, said he was not aware of any official notice about an eviction being authorised for Nov 19.
Chief Supt Bawa said confirmation should be sought from NCD metropolitan Chief Supt Fred Yakasa. But he could not be reached for comments.
The areas under dispute that were completely cleared were allotment areas 101, 102 and part of 103 which were occupied mostly by people from Yangoru in East Sepik province, Koiari in Central province and Ihu in Gulf province.
The spokeswoman said  they bought the blocks through the Morata village court and had been there for more than 20 years.
She said the land was sold to them as allotments after a private developer forfeited it.
The land was then taken back by the National Housing Corporation in 1990.
“We were not aware of what was happening when two backhoe front loaders, escorted by armed police personnel (including members of the mobile unit) in more than four police vehicles, arrived at around 8am and started grading the ground, knocking down everything in their paths.”
Past news articles showed that when the dispute became public last November, homes there were reportedly burnt by men believed to be linked to the MP despite a court order restraining the MP from trespassing.
It is also unclear how the MP got legal authorisation for the eviction yesterday.