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Livelihood, Land And Investment

80-year-old man accuses NRM’s Kigongo of land grabbing



Ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM) vice chairman, Al Hajji Moses Kigongo, and other two city businessmen have been dragged into a city land wrangle involving an 80-year-old man.

Wycliffe Kato, 80, a retired civil servant has run to police to report that three ‘tycoons’ including Kigongo are intentionally grabbing his land in Kabalagala.

Kato claims that Kigongo, through fronting associates; Abudu Kizito Abiola and Mansoor Matovu alias Yanga famous for ownership of Namaganda plaza and many other malls in Kampala city, have embarked on a scheme to grab his prime land located in Kabalagala, a city suburb on plots 309, 317, 335 & 368.

When contacted, Kabalagala police station officer in charge of land protection, Aggrey Muwanika, confirmed that indeed Kato filed a case CRB 143/2018, SD REF; 51/23/12/2017 against Kigongo, who, he accused of grabbing land grabbing.

“They purchased a very tiny plot 310 of block 245 (2 decimals) at Kabalagala junction and using this, he encroached on the road reserve of Muyenga – Kabalagala road, encroaching on plots 309, 317, 335 & 368 and have blocked my house by building on its entrance which they build forcefully at night and use guns to threaten anyone who gets involved,” Kato alleged.

In February, Kato wrote to the town clerk of Makindye Division citing an illegal construction on the said land. In the letter, Kato raised an alarm against the duo that he now claims were constructing a shop on the said land.

Accordingly, the owner of the shop insisted that the plot 335 belonged to him despite showing no evidence for it. Kato says that he had complained initially to the LC1 chairman of the area, the DPC Kabalagala police station on January 24, 2018 and KCCA on January 15 but all chickened out after receiving threats from Kigongo’s associates.

At a later stage, the DPC organized for an impartial surveyor to survey the disputed land, only to find out the said surveyor had been paid off to write a biased report in favour of the alleged encroachers, Yanga and Abiola.

The surveyors report indicates that the said land instead belongs to the late Ham Mukasa thus the title deeds obtained by Kato of the same land inconsequential.

“This is not true because, I bought plot 368 from the late Ham Mukasa’s son, the heir, in 1988, His father, who sold me plot 335 in 1986, had died. I had earlier bought plot 309 and 317 from the late Ssemwanga in 1985,” Kato said.

“All land titles of plots 309, 317, 335 and 368 are in my name and available,” Kato states.

To invalidate the report from surveyors, Kato sought help of ministry of Lands, which confirmed he was indeed owner of the said properties on February 12.

“Reference is made to your request for a search. This is to inform you that the following entries appear on the tittles registers as follows; Tittle: Land at Kiuliriza Makindye Division block 245 plot no 335. Reg proprietor: Kiggundu Wycliffe Kato registered on 08/07/1986 at 12:15pm,” a statement from Lands reads in part.

But Kato states that in spite of all this, the group continued constructing at night on his land without being stopped by authorities.

“The police made them so untouchable that Yanga started boasting how no one will be able to touch them as soon as they rent out the shop.”

“He kept flashing his gun and telling us no one can stop him, he threatened our lives,” Kato added.

In a letter to the KCCA director of physical planning dated January 15, Kato expressed concern that the encroachers were playing hide and seek with police and KCCA officials at the expense of him losing his land. Kato said that a police booth situated less than a meter from the construction site did nothing to solve the situation.

“The builders have been playing the police and KCCA, a game of hide and seek while building at night. This is still going on till today. The policemen at the police booth protect the illegal builders instead of protecting us who had even given them a copy of the land title,” the letter reads in part.

According to Kato, he thought the fight was all over until one evening, a car belonging to Kigongo drove into the site, and its occupant who later turned out to be Kigongo jumped out and made a few inspections before entering the car and droving away.

Many times, Yanga and his colleague Abiola had joked about the fact that he cannot fight someone big in government. Kato’s son, David Kato also insists the Kigongo has visited the premises a number of times to do inspections.

“I am so disappointed a full vice chairman can be involved with such characters like Yanga who are known thugs to grab our land with impunity,” David said.

The land under contention 

However, Kigongo when contacted disowned the land grabbing claims that he comes from Butambala and cannot involve himself in land matters in Kampala.

“Let me tell you, those people who claim that am involved in that land, should come and I give them land, I do not own that land I come from Butambala-Bulo and I do not have any interest in Kabalagala land. My land is in Bulo where I will be buried and they should stop bothering my secretary,” Kigongo said.

Abiola also said he does not know anything about the contested land in Kabalagala. Yanga on the other hand, said the land is his, and instead advised Mzee Kato to solve his issues with KCCA which, he said is after him for trying to construct in a road reserve.

“That man (Kato) is mad, he should go to court. I am a business man who cannot waste time in such small things; you think I have time to fight with that fellow over just 1 or 2 decimals? That man has a mental issue and you should ignore his claims,” Yanga said.

“Kato is trying to build in the road reserve, and when authorities try to stop him, he comes complaining that it is me. I sought permission from KCCA to put pavers (on plot 310), which I did. However, the pavers were put on plot 335, which belongs to Kato.

He also wants to put mobile money kiosks after his perimeter wall, where people pass and that is between him and KCCA, not me,” Yanga said.

Source: The Observer

Livelihood, Land And Investment

Government orders arrest of notorious land grabber in Mubende district.



By Witness Radio team

The government of Uganda has ordered the Police in Mubende to oversee the arrest of a  land grabber in the Mubende district whose evictions have caused suffering to residents in Mubende for over a decade.

The Prime minister of Uganda, Rt Hon. Robina Nabbanja while meeting the affected residents at her home in Kakumiro district ordered the arrest of Milly Naava Namutebi and halted all activities carried out by a land grabber on people’s land. She further made it clear that all residents remain on their land till her visit to ascertain the true owner of the land.

For over a decade, Naava has been carrying out forced evictions in the area with the assistance of the area police which has rendered people homeless. People have lost land, lack food, children are not schooling and families have broken as a result of her unending violent evictions. Defenders have been framed and arrested, whereas others have been beaten in evictions.

Over 3.5 square miles belonging to 4000 residents have all been taken by the wealthy investor without consent from the owners.

Over 60 residents of Kirwanyi in Kiruma sub-county led by their Chairman Bangirana Innocent pitched camp at the Prime minister’s home in protest of the increased and violent evictions of Naava and her men and wanted the prime minister’s intervention to save them from being evicted.

According to the residents, Naava with the protection of police officers was harvesting people’s crops including maize claiming she wanted to use the land. The residents informed Witness Radio that they have been on the said land for generations and wonder how Naava came to own it.

One of the victims, Mr. Lubuuka Godfrey who had over 20 acres of maize told the Prime minister that casual laborers attached to Naava and guarded by the police officers slashed all his plantation and ordered him to leave the land immediately.

“I direct the District Police Commander (DPC) of Mubende and the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) to withdraw the four police officers guarding Naava, and thereafter arrest her for causing distress to the people.” The Rt Hon Prime minister said.

At least 30 houses and hundreds of hectares of crops especially maize were destroyed in the recent violent evictions, according to a community land rights defender, Mr. Ssesazi Christopher.

Naava has on several occasions been arrested and charged for violently evicting people without compensating or resettling them. In July 2022, Naava together with his people at large were arrested, arraigned before the magistrate court in Mubende, and charged with 20 counts including forgery, malicious damage, fraud, and criminal trespass among others.

The Rt Hon Prime minister’s order comes after Naava defied directives of not evicting people on land that were given by the Minister of Lands, Hon Judith Nabakooba. Last year, Nabakooba visited the affected communities and directed no further evictions citing investigations into the land ownership.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Land grabs: Officials in Mubende district are colluding with economically powerful and politically connected people to grab local communities’ land.



By Witness Radio Team

Justine Nakachwa (not her real name) had never thought of losing land she and her family had happily lived on for decades. Her dream of owning farmland had come true.

The land passed down to generations of descendants from the late 1970s was now being claimed by a renowned businessman. She got staggered.

“I was shocked by this news because I have spent most of my life here. Am wondering how he could acquire the land without the knowledge of the whole village.” She painfully revealed this while speaking to a Witness Radio-Uganda reporter.

The sixty-year-old is one of the community members of over 800 smallholder farmers in the three villages; Biwaalwe, Kabaale, and Kyagaranyi in Kanyogoga parish, Butologo sub-county in Mubende district currently facing eviction by Tubikaku Uganda Limited, a company owned by City businessman Desh Kananura.

The smallholder farmers have been practicing subsistence farming on this land to earn a living since the 1970s.

Intending to secure ownership and legalize it, they conducted a search and due diligence, which revealed that the land had no encumbrances.  In 2012, they applied for a lease. Sadly, the Mubende District Land Board declined to grant their request and instead awarded the lease of 906.4 hectares to a ghost company Tubikaku Uganda Limited.

The economically powerful and politically connected to grabbing the downtrodden land with the assistance of land board officials is rapidly growing in Uganda. With the aid of district land boards, cartels are increasingly disposing of smallholder farmers. This practice is now predominant in many districts in the country, especially Mubende district.

It is alleged that the District Land Board has previously leased people’s land to tycoons without following proper legal land acquisition procedures.

Seven years ago, a community’s land in Lwebigajji village in Mubende district of 226.5 hectares were grabbed by a local investor with the help of district land board officials. The community had lived on their land for over 30 years.

When the community showed interest in acquiring a leasehold on the land, the district land board of Mubende hurriedly offered the title to one Deo Semwogerere Mutyaba, a local businessman, who does not even own a decimal on the land.

Consequently, over 2000 families were affected. “In 2014, we requested the Mubende district lands board for a lease on this land, got surveyed using our efforts and resources, however upon returning the leasehold title in 2015, it had Semwogerere’s names as the owner of the land.” Grace Nantubiro, one of the community leaders said.

Samuel Wambi Mamali, a local businessman was also helped by the Mubende district land board officials to allegedly steal local community’s land covering three villages. These include Kyamukoona, Kijojolo, and Kalagala in Mubende District that have been occupied by locals for decades. The villages accommodate over 800 families.

The villagers indicated that Maamali fraudulently acquired a lease title he never applied for, did not consult community members on the land, nor at parish, or sub-county land committees that should have advised and guided on whether the land was lawfully being occupied and cultivated.

The few listed cases above are among several cases of grabbed land by wealthy and politically connected people in the Mubende district.  The trend of district land boards facilitating land grabs has left many local and indigenous communities landless.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

A community of over 300 smallholder farmers conned as their land is sold to a local investor without their consent.



By Witness Radio Team

As foreign agribusinesses take over Kiryandongo communities’ fertile land, other local investors are also eyeing the remaining land occupied by the poor families in the southwestern district of Uganda to grab their land.

A community of over 300 smallholder farmers in Ranch 22, Nyamuntende village in Kiryandongo district is being evicted by a local businessman Maseruka Robert who claims ownership of the land some have lived on for decades. Mr. Maseruka connived with some leaders in the community to grab land from the poor.

The evictions that started in August this year have caused the displacement of over 50 households so far on land measuring over 2000 acres without consultations or being fairly compensated. Crops belonging to residents, and houses were razed.

When evictions by multinationals soared in Uganda, the community acted swiftly to protect the interest on the land and avert a land grab. And in 2015, they applied for a lease of 49 years on the land from the Kiryandongo district land board which was granted to them.

However, unbeknownst to them, schemers would take advantage of this opportunity to grab their land. Earlier, the residents whose land is located on Ranch 22 Block 8 Bunyoro Ranching Scheme entrusted Wilson Sikhama, Ochema Richard, and a few other community members as their leaders in 2016 during the requisition of the land.

According to the residents, initially, the application processes unfolded as they had planned, however, Sikhama and Ochema allegedly connived with other people not known to the community to drop the names of some of the community members whom they had entrusted and replaced them with Julius Isingoma, Gerald Tumusiime, Messanger Gabriel Wabwire, Musokota William John and Simon Mwesige.

Residents further added that the land was titled in the names of the seven people who excluded the villagers. In 2019, when the community expected the location forms of the land per person, they understood that the land they had acquired was sold to one Maseruka Robert without their notification by Sikhama and the group.

In the same year 2019, the community ran to court seeking its intervention to regain the ownership of their land. The community was led by one of their own Mbabazi Samuel. In a blink of an eye, Mbabazi allegedly reached an agreement with the aforementioned group. On the 22nd of October 2020, he allegedly sold the said land to a group of people (Mr. Sikhama’s group) at One Hundred Million Shillings (100,000,000 equivalent to USD 26,483.79) without the approval of the community he represented.

After completion of the sale, the group of schemers sold the land to Maseruka who is now evicting the community.

In our interview with Maseruka, he failed to explain how he acquired the land but, insisted that he wanted the community to leave his land. “These people should leave my land because I want to use it, this is my land.” He maintained.

Some of the evictees whose houses were destroyed had relocated to their neighbors’ homes for fear of what would befall them. A 42-year-old widow and a mother of 10 said Maseruka’s accomplices destroyed her house leaving her destitute.

“These people wanted to give me 700,000/= (185.39) for the 15 acres of my land. When I resisted, they began destroying what they found including my house. They told me the money they were giving me was enough for me to vacate.” She explained.

The chairperson of the affected community, Mushija Caleb said his people are being forcefully evicted because they refused the peanuts given to them as compensation. He reiterated that his people don’t want to leave their land.

“They should not think of compensation irrespective of the amounts they are willing to offer because people are not interested in surrendering their land,” he added.

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