Santa Rosa village council says resident’s land transfer document null and void


A day after the News Room reported that a Santa Rosa resident Monique Gonsalves said that the village council is attempting to seize her land to build a new guest house, the council has refuted her assertions.

The council, in a three-page press statement, noted that the woman is not a resident of the village and therefore, cannot legally obtain any portion of village lands. The council also refuted claims that the woman had been maintaining the land.

While noting that the council seeks to act in the best interest of people, the governing body also said that the proposed $10 million guest house will provide significant benefits for the community.

See below full press statement from the Santa Rosa Village Council:

In response to the article published by NEWS ROOM on June 15, 2022 captioned “Santa Rosa woman says village council attempting to seize her land to build guest house”. Ms. Gonsalves first came to Santa Rosa Village in or around the year 2004 seeking permission for her children to go school and was subsequently granted such permission at a Village General Meeting. However, our records do not reveal that Ms. Monique Gonsalves is a resident of Santa Rosa Village and, therefore, cannot legally obtain any portion of Village Lands.

With regards to Ms. Gonsalves’ assertion that she has been upkeeping the land, it is and has always been evident that the land in question has been overgrown by bush.

The photos below illustrate this:

Relative to Ms. Gonsalves’ claim that she attended to the land in question on May 19, 2022 and discovered contractors on the site, this is far from the truth and misleading to the public. On May 19, 2022 the Santa Rosa Area Councillor recruited three residents to clear the land that was in thick bush. Whilst they were doing so, Ms. Gonsalves stopped them claiming it was her land. At the time the Councillor for that area along with other Councillors were in discussion pertaining to another land issue. Subsequently, Ms. Gonsalves approached the Councillor in a hostile manner on the said matter. The Councillor reportedly informed her that he is unaware that the land belongs to her and she should bring her land document to the Village Office, as he was in possession of documents which show that all rights and interest have been transfered from the legal title holder to Santa Rosa and Islands.

The Deputy Toshao who was acting in the capacity as Toshao along with the area Councillor visited the site and met Ms. Gonsalves’ husband clearing the land. He was informed that he is not a resident of the village and advised to stop until this matter is handled by the Village Council. He then called his wife who came along with the individual who transferred the land to Ms. Gonsalves.

The Deputy Toshao held a discussion on the site and advised all party to hold on work until the Village Council intervened. Both parties acknowledged and stopped. However, before the Village Council could convene a meeting, Ms. Gonsalves proceed clearing the land and planting coconut trees showing blatant disregard for the Village Council.

Several days later, the area Councillor instructed the contractor to commence work since the place had been cleared. The Toshao, Mr. Stavros Stanley, who was out on medical leave returned to the Village and further instructed the contractor to halt work until the Village Council further investigates the matter.

On June 4, 2022 a meeting was held at the Village Office, chaired by Toshao Stavros Stanley in the presence of the Santa Rosa and Islands Area Councillor, the area secretary and treasurer, other village councillors Ms. Gonsalves and Mrs. Yvette Rodrigues (previously Williams). The matter was discussed and Ms. Gonsalves was informed that her document was null and void for the following reasons:

(i) Ms. Gonsalves was not a resident of Santa Rosa Village in 2006 when the land was transferred to her;
(ii) The land transferred to her is invalid given that the transferor failed to produce a formal document to show that at the time of the transfer, she held title to the land.

The Village Council then issued a letter to the area Councillor, granting permission to construct the guest house on June 4, 2022.

The Santa Rosa Village Council further wishesto state that the transferor, Ms. Yvette Williams, who was living in a house next to the land in question, misrepresented to the Village Council in 2006 that she was the legal owner of land when she transferred the land to Ms. Gonsalves.

The records with the Village Office shows that the land was in the name of Ms. Williams’ mother at the time when it was illegally transferred to Ms. Gonsalves. Ms. Williams’ mother has denied that she gave her daughter consent to transfer the land or that she transferred same to her (Ms. Williams).

In 2021 the legal title holder transferred the land to her grandson who later transfered a portion of the land to the Santa Rosa and Islands area for the purpose of constructing a guest house.

We also wish to state that Ms. Gonsalves was given a plot of land in Mora within the Santa Rosa Village, the plot land measured 130ft north, 400ft south, 352ft east and 125ft west, signed by a previous Toshao in 2018 and one only junior councillor without the consent of the village council at the time. This plot of land can accommodate approximately 10 houses or more. In addition, Ms. Gonsalves currently lives on a plot of land given to a resident named Latoya Jaime, who was allocated the said plot of land by the Village Council. The Village Council served Ms. Gonsalves an eviction letter giving her three-month notice and to date she has refused. She was also served a letter in 2019 by the former Toshao to stop trespassing on the resident land.

The aforementioned would show that Ms. Gonsalves has a history of being involved in land disputes and on each occasion, the Village Council has afforded Ms. Gonsalves with an opportunity to be heard, while balancing the rights of both Ms. Gonsalves and other residents of the Village.

The construction of the guest house for the Santa Rosa and Islands is an income generating project to the amount of $10M and this will benefit the area economically. This will also provide employment for residents of the Village.

On June 8, 2022 the Village Council received a letter from the Honourable Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai to “placed all action regarding the land in dispute on hold; and to provide within seven (7) days of this letter, a report on the matter, including recommendation made and the reason for same’’. She also indicated that a Ministerial team will be visiting shortly to investigate the matter among other land complaints. The Village Council has since responded in a letter to the Minister in June 13, 2022 referring her to Section 27 (1) – (3) and Section 28 (1) of the Amerindian Act of 2006 as it relates to the functions of the Minister and investigating village matters.

We wish to advise residents that the Village Council is acting in the best interest of our residents as it relates to the development of Santa Rosa Village in Moruca.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.