Been in PNG for several months now – thought I’d share a story.
Our housemari (this is Pidgin English for “maid”) is trying to work us for cash so she doesn’t end up homeless. She has five kids that all live in the house too. She wants about 500 kina.
Basically the story is that her brother has sold her house out from under her, to a rather scary gang of Highlanders, for 5000 kina. This is about 2400 dollars. It is the family home and is jointly owned by herself, her brother and her sister. So, her brother had no legal right to sell the house without approval from all three people, but the people he sold it to did not know this, and probably didn’t care.They gave the brother his 5000 kina and then they came around telling the rest of the family to clear out.
Our housemari and her sister have now been able to prove that the sale was illegal, but in the meantime the dickhead brother has spent 2000 kina on alcohol in the last two weeks, and is claiming that this was his share of the house. The Highlander is owed 2000 kina (he got back the other 3000) and our housemari is expected to pay this, effectively buying her brother out of his share of the property.
We are kinda concerned that if we give her any money, the brother will just wait a month or so and then try the same trick again, “selling” the house to another person and relying on his sister’s white employees to front up the cash to rebuy the house, again. Effectively he could be trying to milk us through her, without ever coming anwyhere near us.
There doesn’t seem to be any real system of title deeds here at all. People can just go around saying they own stuff and selling it to other people. The only thing our housemari can do is go and get a statutory declaration saying she owns the house – but then, the brother can do this too. In fact I think you can pretty much buy statutory declarations saying whatever you like, if you cough up a decent bribe.
So, shit’s pretty fucked up right here. I think we’re going to end up giving her the cash provided she gets some kind of solid legal assurance, and backing from the cops, saying that she owns the house and he doesn’t. Otherwise this could happen all the time.