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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Benet residents battle disability meted by UWA




Kween, Uganda  About 15 Kilometers away from Kween town lies Kwortow village in Kwosir sub-county, which is adjacent to Mount Elgon National park.  45-year-old, Alex Sorowen, a father of five children is one of the residents of the village. Donned in a brown blue jacket and a pair of brown shorts, Sorowen limped on crutches to the spot where he was meant to meet our reporter for an interview.   

He sat down on a rough and dusty bench, which had some chicken dropping he struggled to clean before the interview. Sorowen explained to URN how he ended up with the permanent disability. “In 2015, while I had gone to graze my cattle on the peripheries of the park boundaries, this is when from a distance, I saw Uganda Wildlife Authority rangers and due to fear, I decided to run away and in the process, they (rangers) shot at me rupturing my right leg,” he said.   

According to Sorowen, the bullet lodged in his right leg and that he was unable to walk. “I was left in the bushes for dead. Nobody among the rangers cared even to check on me despite reeling in deep pain. I on that fateful day struggled for my dear life in the forest alone,” he said.   

He says the rangers reported the matter to a nearby police post indicating that they had shot and injured someone in the forest and that he needed some help. According to Sorowen, it is then that police informed the community members about the fateful incident. “Community members came running to the forest to rescue me and found me totally abandoned in deep pain, they then took me to the nearest health facility in Benet,” he said. 

He was referred to Kapchorwa General Hospital. The teary Sorowen told URN that he was advised to see Dr. John Ekure, an orthopaedic at Kumi Orthopedic Hospital where he was amputated of his right leg. According to Sorowen, he has sold off almost everything he had to meet the medical bills yet he is the sole breadwinner of his family but has been rendered useless. Sorowen now survives on handouts from well-wishers in the community who have kept soliciting for him basic needs like food and other items. 

He faults the management of the park for failure to take over his medical bills yet he is suffering due to the action of their rangers. Over time, UWA, which is mandated to manage national parks and wildlife in the country has been at loggerheads with the community over the park boundaries resulting from encroachment. Residents say they have any land to live on and cultivate crops for a living. 

As a result, many lives have been lost and injured on the side of the community and UWA. Like Sorowen, 36-year-old Janet Chebet, another resident in Karatow village too has tested the wrath of the UWA rangers. She told URN that she has had difficulties passing urine due to a broken bladder resulting from several injuries inflicted on her by UWA rangers. According to Chebet, in August this year, she was badly assaulted by rangers who found her tending to her farmland that borders the park. 

“It was from the beatings that I sustained at the park on that day that affected by bladder to-date,” she told our reporter. Police medical examination forms that URN has obtained show that Chebet’s bladder and her lower abdomen were injured. This, according to Chebet is the sole cause of her current experience.   

She has since been advised by medical experts not to stop engaging in heavy work like tiling land. According to Chebet, she currently unable to provide for her family.  

David Mande, a resident of Kween told our reporter that since the government ordered the eviction of the Benet people from their ancestral land, the Benet have faced hard life at the hands of the rangers who keep raping their women and daughters while beating and shooting men. 

“Over the years the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has terrorized this community burning homes, beating and killing people while several others have been arrested for grazing their animals in the park and trying to demand for their land,” Mande said. 

He says the community appreciates the fact that the area was gazette National Park but the government needs to fulfil the court’s maiden ruling of resettling the people on the 2250 hectares of land that was degazetted from the park.  

Wrangles between residents and UWA date back to 1983 when the first degazettement was done. There are two contradicting boundary lines of 1983 and 1993. The Benet sub-county asked for land for resettlement in 1983. In the spirit of being a custodian of its citizens, the government gave it to them but in 1993, they created another line, which triggered confusion.

The law on grazing animals in the park has escalated the clashes since many of the people injured are found in the park while grazing their animals. The owner of the animals is fined Shillings 50,000 for every head of cattle that is impounded from the park.   This, the community says has impoverished them since several animals are impounded from the park each day. Those who don’t pay or bribe the officials lose their animals for good. 

Jackeline Sangay, the Kwosir and Kitwoi sub-county woman Councilor, says that as leaders they have severally presented petitions expressing the grievances of the people to the district councilor for possible redress in vain.   

Sangay says people around the park are ignorant about the fine since it didn’t go through the local leadership in the district. 

She adds that, the UWA rangers have meted all sorts of atrocities to the communities around the park including raping the women and their daughters and this now has left the majority of the people live in a state of fear to speak out about their untold suffering for fear of losing their marriages.  

Fredrick Kiiza, the Chief Warden of Mount Elgon National Park has dismissed the allegations of torture by the rangers, saying the impasse in the park especially in Kween District is motivated by politicians and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).  

“The Impasse in Kween, is politically motivated, it’s the disgruntled politicians who keep promising residents things that they cannot deliver,” he reasoned.   Adding that “Its these organizations like Solidarity and Action Aid that are doing public accountability to their funders but we shall not accept as UWA to be fooled, you enter the park we shall crush you, that is a protected area for Ugandans, not an individual.”   

He, however, hastens to add that there could be a few errant rangers who have meted the atrocities on the locals but it isn’t sanctioned by UWA.  

Kiiza says the resettlement on the landless people that was ordered by the court was meant to be done by the Office of the Prime Minister and not UWA.  

Source: The independent.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Breaking; Lands Minister directs police chief to arrest armed mobs involved in forced and illegal land evictions.



By Witness Radio team

Uganda’s Lands Minister Judith Nabakooba has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Martins Okoth Ochola to arrest all organized and armed mobs involved in forced and illegal land evictions.

The directive is the second one from the same minister to the police chief in three (3) months due to widespread forced and illegal land evictions in Uganda.

On February 28, 2022, President Yoweri Museveni came out and banned all land evictions in the country that are carried out without the consent of the respective District Security Committees (DSC).

The latest directive was triggered by violent scenes that occurred on the 19th of March 2023 when armed groups of men with graders invaded the St peter’s Church of Uganda’s land in Kibiri and started destroying crops planted on the church land. The armed group whose employer is not yet established claims the church is occupying someone’s land illegally.

In an attempt to stop the unlawful eviction, Church leaders, led by Reverend Maxwell Ssebuggwawo and some faithful tried to intervene but in vain.

According to eyewitnesses, the armed group immediately attacked the Clergyman and other Christians causing severe bodily injuries. In the scuffle, Rev. Maxwell Ssebuggwawo’s vestments were torn by the mob, whom the community believes was being targeted.

In response to the violent attack against the church leader and congregation, the minister observed that many land grabbers have resorted to using organized and armed mobs to evict people from their land. She further describes eviction as illegal and unacceptable since the government has capable security agencies that can effect lawful evictions.

“We have noted incidents where some crooks employ mobs to evict people yet we have security forces that can do this concerning the law. This is wrong. I have therefore directed the IGP to arrest everybody involved in these illegal acts and be brought to book”, the Minister added in an interview with the local media.

Witness Radio in the recent past has documented incidents where organized and armed mobs are participating in violent land evictions.  For instance, a recent eviction of a 99-year-old Hellena Namazzi in Numugongo in Kira Municipality in Wakiso district by Sema Properties boss, Ssemakula Sulait, another ugly case involved a violent eviction of over 2000 people off 328.1 hectares by one Moses Karangwa and Abid Alam in Kassanda district among others.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

Over 500 Kapapi families in Hoima district remain stranded after the district security committee fails to resettle them back on their land as directed by the minister.



By Witness Radio team.

Hundreds of families, violently evicted from their land in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties in Hoima district are still pondering their next moves as efforts to return to their grabbed land remain ambiguous.

The directive came after Hoima district police and private guards from Magnum, a private security company raided people’s homes in Waaki North, Kapapi Central, Waaki South, Runga, and Kiryatete villages in Kapapi and Kiganja sub-counties, Hoima district on 10th of February 2023 at 1:00 am.

The violent scenes left hundreds of children with scores of injuries, houses were torched, and property worth billions was destroyed.  The animals such as goats, sheep, and cows were butchered and others were looted.

On 22nd of February 2023, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Honorable Judith Nabakooba while addressing a meeting in Rukola village Kapapi sub-county, Hoima district directed the security committee to return the victim villagers back to their land.

She considered the eviction unlawful since it was conducted at night and without a court order.

In that meeting, area leaders, Hoima district police and Hoima Resident District commissioner, Mr. Rogers Mbabazi, Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr. Michael Kyakashari were in attendance.

The victim community accuses a group of people including Ndahura Gafayo, Aston Muhwezi, David Mpora, Monica Rwashadika, Agaba, and Wilber Kiiza of being responsible for the land grab.

The grabbed land is situated at the shores of Lake Albert adjacent to the Kabaale parish in Buseruka Sub-county where the greenfield oil refinery is to be established. In April 2018, the government selected the Albertine Graben Refinery Consortium (AGRC) as the private sector investment to finance, develop, construct, and operate the Greenfield oil Refinery estimated to cost $4b.

According to the Witness Radio research team, ever since the directive was made instead, there’s increased human rights violations including arbitrary arrests, detentions and threats, and intimidation against victims of residents encamped at Rwenyana Church to vacate.

The evictees report that after the minister’s directive, three community members include; Mbombo Steven, and Kalongo Steven have been arrested, charged, and remanded to Hoima government prison.

“Our families encamping at church and waiting to be resettled back as directed by the Minister are facing further threats and intimidation to go away. They say they don’t want us at the church. Some of us are currently in hiding for fear of arbitrary arrests or kidnaps.” A community member who preferred to be called Enos due to fear of retaliation told Witness Radio.

He further added that the community is living at the mercy of God, with no food, or shelter, and predicted an uncertain future for their children since they are not attending school.

“Families are scattered in different centers while others continue to live with their relatives. However essential services such as shelter, food, health services, and education for their children remain a challenge. These people found us on land and started claiming ownership of this land. Imagine when we went for a search at a land registry, we found out that they only have a title of 2 acres but everyone knows we have been on this land for over 30 years. We have people who were born on this land.” He added.

Witness Radio contacted Mr. Rogers Mbabazi, Hoima Resident District Commissioner who heads the district security committee, to understand how far the committee had gone with the implementation of the minister’s directive. He instead referred us to his Deputy Mr. Michael Kyakashari.

Mr. Michael Kyakashari, when asked about the status of the directive, told our reporter that he did not have an answer for him before he hung up.

“I don’t have an answer for you” He repeatedly said.

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Livelihood, Land And Investment

State House Anti-Corruption Unit nets a surveyor implicated in Mubende district land-grabs



Mr. Mafumu Paul and his accomplices at police after their arrest.

By Witness Radio Team,

The State House Anti-corruption Unit has arrested an alleged landgrabber in Mubende district whose evictions have rendered masses homeless.

Mr. Mafumu Paul, a Mubende based surveyor is accused of using police and conniving with some officials in the Lands ministry to issue forged titles that have been instrumental in illegal land evictions in the districts of Mubende, Kiboga and Kyankwanzi.

The alleged land grabber has been arrested alongside two of his farm workers who include Ssenyondo Ronald and Sseruyange Ben.

The arrest follows complaints of grave human rights abuses to the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and the minister for lands housing and urban development. In response, the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, the Hon. Judith Nabakooba Nalule, visited the families whose crops were sprayed with chemicals by Mafumu’s workers. She later requested the State House Anti-Corruption Unit to intervene and investigate circumstances under which forged certificate of land titles are issued and used to forcefully evict local communities off their land. She further directed the Mubende Police to oversee the arrest of the Mufumu.

He has been implicated in instigating unlawful arrests, beating people, denying communities to access clean water sources, razing-down people’s houses and gardens, fly-grazing, and spraying their crops with chemicals in order to evict them from their land.

In one of the recent cases, on the 14th of January 2023, violence was meted out on the residents in Nalyankanja village, Kyenda Town Council in Mubende district. Mafumu is said to have ordered his workers to spray their crops, an act they believe has escalated hunger in their area. The crops sprayed with chemicals included: sweet potatoes, pineapples, coffee, bananas, and Cassava.

According to Witness Radio research, Mafumu has been accused of violently evicting over 17 families since 2018 from their land measuring approximately 248 acres.

The alleged land grabber and his accomplices are currently being detained at Mubende Police.

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