ESCOM DRAGGED TO COURT OVER LAND

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Village Headwoman Baluti of Traditional Authority Somba in Blantyre and her subjects have sued the country’s power supplier, Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom), for encroaching and trespassing into land under her jurisdiction.

Documents we have seen indicate that the court has since summoned Escom to respond to the claims within 14 days, beginning Wednesday last week, failing which the court shall enter into default judgment against it.

“We command you within 14 days after the service of this writ on you inclusive the day of service, [that] you must either satisfy the claims or return to this court the accompanying acknowledgement of service stating therein in where you intend to contest the proceedings.

“Take notice that if you intend to satisfy the claims or return the acknowledgement within the stated [period] or if you return acknowledgement without stating therein an intention to contest the proceedings, the plaintiff [Baluti] may proceed with the action and judgment may be entered against you forthwith without further notice,” reads in part the writ of summons dated June 2013.

As statement of claim, submitted before the court from Andrew Chikumbu on behalf of Baluti, Escom entered the people’s land without seeking consent from either the chief or owners of the land.

The claim further says the locals suffered loss and damage of their cultivable, agricultural and arable lands, exotic trees and fixtures on the land during Escom’s erecting of metallic poles to support power lines, hence they demand damages.

“The plaintiff claims damages for trespass, aggravated damages of trespass and costs of this action,” concludes the statement of claim signed on Wednesday.

Baluti wrote Escom on August 27 last year expressing her concerns, according to other earlier documents, but there was no response.

The papers further show that Baluti wrote the office of the Blantyre District Commissioner on May 23 this year, complaining about the encroachment and trespassing of their land and Escom’s failure to address their concerns.

And a letter dated June 4, 2013, shows that a Mr CE Mphepo from the office of the DC wrote Escom, copied to the Office of the President and Cabinet, asking the body’s comments, direction and need to handle the issue professionally. There was no immediate response from Escom to the developments.

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