Papua New Guinea's largest superannuation fund claimed victory over a small community which had settled on land owned by the fund more than two decades ago.
Bushwara, a community outside of Port Moresby, was issued eviction notices by Nambawan Super about 12 months ago - some 20 years after people first began living on the three parcels of land that make up the site.
The Bushwara community challenged the super fund in court and, on 16 November 2020, the court ruled in Nambawan Super's favour, saying those living there must vacate within 120 days, or by March 16.
Justice Anis said the settlers had been led to believe they were buying land from the traditional owners when in fact the land is State land leased to Nambawan Super.
"Land cannot be sold like a chattel or a loaf of bread, nor can anyone just occupy it and try to claim rights over it without proper legal basis," Anis said.
Nambawan Super said it was disheartening to see that people, including some of its own members, had been taken advantage of by those who "sold" them the land despite having no legal right to.
"As Papua New Guineans we all understand the value of land - and just as people will fight to protect their traditional land, the fund has fought to protect the State Land Leases we have purchased - so they can be developed and improved for today, and future generations," the fund said.
The super fund intends to develop master planned suburbs with affordable housing on the site to cater to Port Moresby's growing population, it said.
"Securing these titles has been a challenging process where Nambawan Super has encountered a series of bureaucratic difficulties with one title still being subject to legal action," the fund said.
"But with these three key titles no longer in doubt, our team is readying to progress development."
Nambawan Super purchased the three parcels of land, known as P2156, P2157 and P2159, in 1990. In November 2019 the fund said it was becoming increasingly concerned with the number of settlers claiming to own parcels of the land.
Bushwara is just one of an estimated 200 unplanned settlements within Papua New Guinea.