Lae family still living in a tent one year after NHC eviction

The matter is currently in court...

In February 2017,  John and Lucy Benta’s family were evicted from their nephew’s Cormorant Street home in Lae. 
His nephew, Dickson,  employed as a health professional,  had taken a transfer to East New Britain when the eviction happened in his absence. 
The eviction happened months before the  elections as did many others.  John’s wife Lucy and her daughter  were the only ones in the house when armed police and National Housing Corporation Officers forced them to leave. 
“The officer from the NHC came a broke the clothes line and tore everything off it.  They treated us like criminals.”
The  family initially camped  beside the fence. Then they were  told to leave again.  They have since been camping a few meters from where they used to live under a tent made from tarpaulin given by friends and neighbors while the new tenants have taken up residence  in their former home. 
John says, they can’t move because they’ve begun a court process.  His nephew and his  in-law have  been listed as plaintiffs in what has now become  a lengthy court battle to regain possession of the house. 
By next month, the family will have spent  a year living in the  tent waiting for  justice to be delivered. 
 “We could have left a long time a ago. But we have a court case that is in progress. My  nephew is  a plaintiff.  The court system is taking so long.”  
Living in a tent has not  been easy. 
When  the rain comes,  the water flows through the tent.  Both John who,  walks with a limp,  and Lucy  have developed various health problems.  They have also had to move one of their daughters elsewhere after they were threatened several times. 
“People have come here at night and stolen our bank cards and ID cards.”
According to John, his nephew is  seeing payroll deductions being made from his salary as payments for the house they used to live in.  This is a common scenario for many public servants who have  been evicted from state properties.  
This is just one of many evictions in Lae over the 2017 period.  In December, The Lae MP, John Rosso, intervened to assist two families forced out of their homes.  
They have since  regained possession of their homes .  There has also been widespread condemnation of the National Housing corporation’s  methods of forcefully  evicting tenants. 

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