Tanzania Drops Case Against 24 Maasai Leaders

They were accused of murdering a police officer during an altercation between the Maasai people and security forces.
The Chanzo Reporter22 November 20222 min

Dar es Salaam. The Arusha Resident Magistrate Court on Tuesday freed a total of 24 Maasai leaders from Loliondo who were facing charges of murder after the Director of Public Prosecution (DDP) withdrew the case, saying the state is no longer interested in pursuing it.

The leaders were first brought to court on June 16, 2022, after they were accused of murdering a police officer, Garlus Mwita Garlus, who was reportedly attacked with a spear during an altercation between security organs and indigenous Maasai of Loliondo division in Ngorongoro district that took place on June 10, 2022.

The altercation followed authorities’ plan to turn 1,500 square kilometres of 4,000 square kilometres of designated village land comprising the Loliondo Game Controlled Area into a game reserve.

The change would imply evictions from Ololosokwan, Oloirien, Kirtalo, and Arash villages, which could displace up to 70,000 indigenous Maasai, although Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said then that the exercise aimed at “evicting nobody.”

During the altercation that received wide-ranging reactions from both within and outside Tanzania, over 120 indigenous Maasai people were reportedly injured, according to a list of injured people published on social media then.

READ MORE: Tanzania Now Charges Twenty Maasai People From Loliondo With Murder

Joseph Oleshangay, a human rights activist who has been closely following up on the case, told The Chanzo on Tuesday that the court’s decision is welcomed.

“[The leaders’] release is positively received [considering that now] the innocent people,  unlawfully arrested, maliciously prosecuted and detained for six months are now free,” said Mr Oleshangay who works with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC).

“But this shows how reckless the prosecution system is [in Tanzania] and, of course, how our judicial system is complicit to it,” he observed.

The Indigenous people of Loliondo and Ngorongoro have been protesting government plans to turn their land into a controlled area, slamming the decision as a violation of their basic human rights.

READ MORE: Maasai People Sue Tanzania at EACJ Over ‘Forceful Eviction’ Attempts from Ngorongoro

In Ngorongoro in particular, the government has been implementing what it calls a “voluntary” relocation exercise where residents there have been directed to relocate to a designated area in Handeni, Tanga.

Authorities have been defending these moves on the need to protect the UNESCO-inscribed World Heritage Site from extinction, saying that allowing human beings to co-exist with wild animals affects both nature and the people.

The Chanzo Reporter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Chanzo Black@300x

The Chanzo Initiative exists at the interface between advocacy and journalism. It is founded to uplift the voices of the underreported, vulnerable, and marginalized communities in Tanzania with the goal to make Tanzania the best place to live for everyone regardless of class, creed, sexual orientation and nationality.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

The Chanzo Initiative, 2022 © All Rights Reserved