Settlers demand K6m for damage

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday October 30th, 2013


A GROUP of settlers in Lae is seeking K6 million in compensation from the provincial government for damage caused to properties during an eviction 13 years ago.

They submitted a list of their claims to their lawyer yesterday to verify before forwarding it to the provincial government. 

Principal plaintiff John Kameku said they had compiled a claimant’s list after the Supreme Court had in March upheld a decision of the lower court that their eviction was illegal. 

The decision had followed a National Court order on Nov 2, 2012, that ordered a default judgment against the defendants be entered into for the damage to be assessed. 

“We have engaged a professional evaluator who had assessed the damage and made costing which we will present to the provincial government through our lawyer,” Kameku said.

“It has taken us 13 years and we have gone through a lot of struggles – even to the Supreme Court.”

The case was between Kameku and Yonggo settlers (plaintiff) and Manasupe Zurenouc (first defendant) in his capacity as the Morobe provincial administrator, the Morobe provincial government (second defendant) and the independent state of Papua New Guinea (third defendant). 

The eviction was carried out by the provincial government with assistance from police in 2002 at the Yonggo settlement in 2-Mile. 

The eviction followed the killing of a Catholic priest and a Markham woman separately at 6-Mile, outside Lae.

The killing had angered the provincial administration under the leadership of Zurenouc, who proceeded to evict settlements in the Miles area. 

In the eviction, several houses were torched, animals killed and food gardens destroyed.  

About 1,000 settlers were displaced and others left homeless. 

The settlers went to court to seek redress for the treatment and damage they suffered at the hands of the authorities. 

To show their appreciation for their court victory, the settlers yesterday marched from the town to their lawyer’s office (Gamoga & Co Lawyers) on Third Street and presented money and food items to their lawyer, Karo Gamoga.

Gamoga was away but another lawyer, Matilda Kupul, on behalf of her boss, accepted the gifts.

“Our principal is out so we will not say anything,” she said.

“We have helped a lot of people but this is the first time we have seen this (gifts),” she said.

Kupul said they would inform Gamoga of the matter when he returned from his trip.