After many years of trying to get back his land, Samson Mwehembana, had reached a point of giving up his fight. Mwehembana, the 89-year-old retired veteran, has been fighting in court and spending his daily life in local government offices since 2015, to reclaim his land which was confiscated by his rich and powerful neighbor who, he claims, used his money and influence to bribe the courts to rule in his favor. Mzee Mwehembana lives in Makulu ward in Dodoma Municipality Council.
Land conflicts are among the common problems in different parts of Tanzania, causing disputes within community members leading to confrontations that may result to relatives killing each other. These disputes in the communities lead to insecurity causing people not to engage in their daily activities in fear of their lives. This, in the long run, affects the economy of the community in question and, hence, the national output as a whole.
Mwehembana’s struggles became difficult because some local authority officials are rooted into these land disputes and benefit from them because they are bribed by those who have money. This means people like mzee Mwehembana are deprived of their rights by corrupt leaders. After numerous attempts to claim his rightful property at different levels from village leadership to ward officials and, to what he thought was the last resort and savior, the Primary Court Magistrate. At last, the alleged corrupt rich guy in the ward won the case and Mwehembana lost, to nobody’s surprise.
One evening, Mwehembana got a visitor at his home, one of his longtime friends. He found the senior citizens, mzee Mwehembana and his lovely wife, with fresh wounds of their loss at the Primary Court. They narrated the sad story to the visitor who, to their surprise, was amused by the outcome of the case! He told them about Makulu Ward Paralegals and how they might help them reclaim what they had considered gone and dusted. "This friend of mine advised us to go and seek Makulu Paralegals’ help in our bid to change what we thought was lost hope. I went to them narrated my case to them they agreed to help us," says the old man.
The paralegals reviewed all the documents from the Primary Court and advised Mwehembana to file an appeal at the District Court. With the help of these paralegals, the court ruled in the old man’s favor and he got his land back and was compensated a total amount of TShs 380,000. Mwehembana was so excited with this outcome saying, "These boys are doing a great deal of service to our community as they are helping poor people like me with legal problems in our village."
Parents and relatives had planned to marry an 16-year old girl to an old man in Sikonge district, Tabora region. The parents had presented their request to the Adventists church in the villages and, initially, the church was willing to give in to their wish. Forced early marriages is a common practice in most communities in Tanzania, whereby most girls are deprived of their rights such as the right to education, and freedom of choice. This is mostly due to lack of education on issues about human rights and legal aid.
In this case, Sikonge Paralegals took the initiative to stop this marriage by empowering the community members to pressurize the church to stop the marriage taking place. The legal aid providers heard about the marriage while conducting one of their sessions of public awareness on women and human rights. They overheard the community members talking about the marriage of the 16-year old girl which was to take place in the church.
The legal aid providers heard about the marriage while conducting one of their sessions of public awareness on women and human rights. They overheard the community members talking about the marriage of the 16-year old girl which was to take place in the church. "We decided to intervene and stop this marriage as it was violating the rights of the young girl who was not willing to marry an old man, says Nelson Jackson, the Sikonge district Paralegal.
To start with, the paralegals approached the girl’s parents and enlightened them on what the law says about a girl aged below 18 in reference to the Marriage Act, 1971. The parents were difficult to persuade as they stuck with their decision to marry their young daughter claiming she was idle so marrying her was the only solution. One day, as the congregation was proceeding with regular prayers service at the church, Jackson asked the pastor to give him few minutes to educate church members about marriage and what the law says about it. The pastor agreed and gave him the floor. The paralegal addressed the church members about the dangers of early marriages referring to the 16-year old girl.
The church finally came to a fair conclusion deciding that they won’t proceed with the marriage ceremony and messages was delivered to other churches in the village to stop and condemn the practice.
My husband is an alcoholic, he is mostly drunk all the time and this leads to him beating me all the time sometimes for no reason at all," says Luciana Silumbwe who has bruises all her body due to beatings from one Barton Isaac, her husband. Luciana, aged 25, is a mother of three children living in Ikana village, Ndalambo ward in Momba district, Mbeya region. In December 2015, Luciana was brutally beaten by her husband in front of her children after Barton accused his wife of selling his reserved beer.
In his attempt to save his mother, the 12-year old Sichalwe tried to intervene but ended up on the receiving end of more beating from his father. Luciana was badly harmed as she almost lost her left eye as a result of the beating. This habit had continued for a long time and the neighbors knew of Barton’s bad behavior of beating his wife. However, the December incident forced the neighbors to intervene as they now tired of the violent man. After the incident, the husband disappeared as the angry villagers were looking for him claiming his head.
After hearing about the incident, Emanuel Kidamwina, a paralegal, travelled to the village and reported the incident to the police. He took the badly injured woman to the hospital for treatment. After listening to both parties, Emmanuel was able to resolve the conflict by providing legal advice, counseling and education. He advised the man and his wife settle their differences and take care of their children. He warned the husband to stop taking excessive alcohol.