Kamuzu (Administrator of Deceased Estate) v Attorney General (Civil Cause No. 1839 (A) of 1997 ) ( of ) [2004] MWHC 3 (10 January 2004);

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Headnote and Holding: 

The late president of Malawi, Dr H. Kamuzu Banda (the deceased) was given customary land by traditional chiefs. The deceased had applied for a lease on the land which was rejected, and he was asked to vacate the land. The plaintiff applied for an injunction restraining the government from interfering with the deceased’s property rights, a declaration that eviction would violate the deceased’s constitutional rights and an order compelling the government to comply with the rules on expropriation of property.

On the issue of the disputed locus standi of the deceased and the administrator, the court considered the environmental degradation on part of the land that had already been given to the government. The court found that the Environmental Management Act gives any person the right to involve himself or herself in environmental litigation. 

Secondly, the court determined whether the deceased had any constitutionally recognized right in the land. The testimony of the village headmen and the traditional authority of the area revealed that the deceased had a right of indefinite occupation and utilization of the customary land which was capable of assignment and inheritable. The court thus held that constitutional provisions applied to rights of property in customary land.

Thirdly, the court held that the government had infringed on the deceased’s constitutionally protected rights, by violating the legislative provisions on expropriation of property that required them to give adequate notification and compensation.

Accordingly, the court granted the injunction and ordered the defendants to pay costs of the proceedings.