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Kaweri coffee investment shatters the dreams of a budding businessman.



By Witness Radio Team

Mr. Lawrence Sekirigi, 76 is one of the thousands of smallholder farmers in Mubende whose dreams of blossoming life were fluttered by the infamous Kaweri Coffee Plantation development.  He is a teary one that represents a million Ugandans who have been disposed of or are on the verge of being disposed of.

Acreages of plantations of maize, cassava, potatoes, beans, groundnuts, and bananas that sprouted on his 16 acres of land in the early 2000s painted the right picture of Lawrence’s passion and love for farming.

Ruggedly handsome, fairly aged, and a smooth dark chocolate-colored man with a farming family background adopted the income-generating activity in his youthful stages after dropping out of school for lack of school fees. Armed with an inheritance of 16 acres curved from 40 acres of family land, he ventured into farming earning him Uganda Shillings Five Million, roughly (1,290.47 United States Dollars) in a season.

The past good memories still linger in his mind. With his lifetime inheritance, he grew a variety of crops that he could sell and earn a living and feed his family. To him, growth was the question of “when” but not “whether”. He had a dream of expanding his enterprise and becoming a household name in modern farming.

“My harvests were always in plenty because of good soils and other related factors. My dreams were definitely to grow bigger in business than I was, with many stores supplying both grains and food countrywide. I was one of the richest men here in Kitemba. I achieved this through farming” he narrates with a nostalgic tone.

Those days are now gone but cannot be wished away. As a selfless businessman, he supplied grains and food to hotels in Mubende, Kaweri Prison, restaurants, and Madudu production farm all based in Mubende district before government soldiers and anti-riot police grabbed his land for Kaweri Coffee Investment.

Kaweri coffee plantation farm is owned by Germany-based Neumann Kaffee Gruppe, which according to its website, has 49 companies and with presence in 27 countries. It operates large-scale coffee plantations in Kitemba, Luwunga, Kijunga, and Kiryamakobe villages in Mubende District, Central Uganda.

On a fateful day in 2001, the Ugandan bulldozers under the watch of the army and anti-riot police began moving into the settlements of villagers in Kaweri to clear the area for coffee growing. Property worth millions and cultural sites belonging to residents were razed by the army. This happened with no prior consultations, compensation, or resettlements.

When we visited Lawrence at his new home in Luwunga where he relocated, the toothless, and grey-haired man sat between the muddy kitchen and a house with old iron sheets. Clad in a dirty-pink-like squared shirt and black denim trousers munched away on sweet potatoes and yams mixed with beans.

It was 4:45 pm and now it was coming to dusk.  He murmured something to my ears. He revealed how his family has been forced to ration food to survive. They survive on a meal a day. He looked weary, hopeless, and worried. The land grab has left a huge scar in his life.

Lawrence is not alone. Barely two decades later, many people, are living desperate lives. The so-called Kaweri coffee developments rendered many of them homeless, landless, or even useless in their own country.

Thousands of people are scattered everywhere trying to find ends meet for their families. They leave in temporary settlements of muddy houses, and makeshifts in areas where they settled. Others work at the farms of Kaweri coffee to bring food to the plate for their families. However, their payment is low depending on the work they do. They earn 5100 shillings a day equivalent to 1.33 USD upon the completion of the assigned task. If one does not complete the task in a day, he is not paid till he completes it, the next day.

“Most of my friends are suffering, they don’t have where to live, a cause brought about by Kaweri Coffee. People were well before this meaning less development brought by the government.” Ssekirigi added.

“My dreams were completely brought to an end. I am currently staying on land provided to me by a friend. I have nothing in life, and cannot fulfill my responsibilities as a man. I also wanted my 16 children to get the best education which I did not get but this was also not possible.” He shares with regret.

He added that “what hurts me most is that my father and mother plus other relatives buried on our grabbed land were destroyed by the bulldozers during the evictions. A total of 48 graveyards were destroyed. They did not allow us to exhume and transfer our beloved ones who had occupied the grabbed land in the 1930s. My crops, animals including 4pigs, 4 cows and 12 birds were looted by officers, and 32 iron sheets house were destroyed during the hurried and forced evictions.”

Roughly, 4000 smallholder farmers were evicted without prior consultation, compensation, and resettlement by the Ugandan government. The government claimed it had bought land from the landlord Emmanuel Bukko Kayiwa.

The government which leased Kaweri 2512 hectares of land forcefully evicted residents and told them that they would be resettled on another piece of land equivalent in size to the land that each had.

However, Kaweri said the government compensated all those residents who were willing to vacate the land. A brief account of events by Kaweri coffee plantation that Witness Radio has had the opportunity to see indicates that some people were compensated by the government and the rest were relocated.

“In addition, Kaweri demanded to see receipts of the compensation payments as a precondition. These receipts were all produced: each compensation is documented and signed by the recipient, the village leader, the Resident District Commissioner, and the lawyers of the buyer and seller. The compensation comprised either allocation of new plots of land and free transport to the new plot of land or monetary compensation. Overall, compensation in the form of land was provided to 102 families. Another 64 families were given monetary compensation because they did not live in the area but did farmland.” it reads in part.

Witness Radio contacted the Managing Director of Kaweeri coffee, Mr. Etienne Jacobsz Steyn to clarify the eviction. He said he had nothing to report on nor did not have time for us since he was busy.

In what the government and Kaweri called compensation or resettlement, Mr. Kayiira Peter Bakaleke the Chairman of the evicted communities said they were lured into signing agreements that read of their relocation to Kambuye village. The agreement further mentioned that they would be given the same acreage of land as what they were evicted from. This, according to Kayiira did not happen.

“This didn’t happen. People were not compensated and neither were we relocated. The government and Kaweeri coffee plantation are telling lies. People are still suffering.” Kayiira elaborated.

Mr. Ssendagire Geoffrey the area Chairperson of Local Council II in Kanseera Ward said people were never compensated and rejected being given 50×100 ft. plots.

“It was a traumatizing experience. It left many of them depressed. Many of them had over 20 acres and big families. They wondered how they could stay on that land.” the chairman added.

The purported land for relocation was eventually grabbed by a businessman in Mubende Kaweesi George, the area chairperson confirmed

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Uganda: Judicial harassment of environmental and human rights activist Desire Nkurunziza



UGA 001 / 0923 / OBS 037
Arbitrary detention /
Release /
Judicial harassment
September 5, 2023The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uganda.

Description of the situation:The Observatory has been informed of the arrest and subsequent release of Desire Nkurunziza, an environmental and human rights activist and the elected leader of Nyairongo village, Kikuube district, mid-western region of Uganda. As a member of the Save the Bugoma Forest Campaign (SBFC) community task force, Mr Nkurunziza has been calling out the local and central government authorities about the deforestation of the Bugoma Central Forest Reserve, which has been leased to the Hoima Sugar Limited company, mainly for sugarcane cultivation, by the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, South-West region of Uganda. This project is not only affecting the biodiversity of the forest but also the local community, which has been subjected to extortion by land grabbers associated to Hoima Sugar Limited and/or its agents.

On July 16, 2023, two cars came to Desire Nkurunziza’s home in Nyairongo trading center, one of them belonging to a supervisor of Hoima Sugar Ltd and the other to an associate of the Kikuube Resident District Commissioner, both known by Mr Nkurunziza. The two men informed him that two of his village members were arrested in the forest, now a sugar cane plantation, and he agreed to go with them to help his constituents. Upon reaching the plantation, he was handed over to armed Hoima Sugar Ltd personnel, who started beating him and then recorded a video accusing him of illegally cutting down sugar cane. He was then taken to the Kikuube police station by the same Hoima Sugar Ltd car, where he was arrested on the grounds of “incitement of violence” and “criminal trespass” under Section 51 and 302 of the Penal Code Act, respectively, and detained there by the police for two days. He requested temporary release from police bond – custody -, but his request was denied.

On July 18, 2023, he applied for Court bail, which was denied even though he fulfilled all the requirements set by the Court and no reason was provided. He was then remanded to Kiryatete prison.

After reporting back to court on July 24, Desire Nkurunziza was released on Court bail. He had to pay a cash bail of 300,000 Ugandan shillings (approximately 74 Euros) in addition to satisfying all the conditions for release, with the obligation to report back on August 31, 2023, to the Chief Magistrates Court of Hoima, which is handling the matter. During his audience, the magistrate informed him that he would need to report back once again to the Court on November 2, 2023, without providing any reasons.

The Observatory recalls that the Bugoma Forest is the second biggest natural forest reserve in Uganda. In recent years, it has been claimed by the Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Western Uganda, which obtained a land title through irregular ways before it leased it to sugar manufacturer Hoima Sugar Limited for sugarcane cultivation, to establish an urban centre, develop eco-tourism, and restore a portion of the forest reserve. Before leasing the land to Hoima Sugar Limited, an environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) certificate was issued by the National Environment Management Authority, in circumstances that have been contested by the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) in courts of Law. The contestation is based on the allegations that the assessment was made without consulting the local community, even though this issue clearly concerns them. A trial which aims to annul the ESIA certificate is ongoing in front of the Court of appeal.

The Observatory further recalls that this is not the first time that defenders of the Bugoma Forest are targetted for their legitimate human rights activities. In September 2020, nine environmental rights defenders were arbitrarily arrested for defending the Bugoma Forest, including Venex Watebawa and Joshua Mutale, respectively team leader and Head of Programmes of Water and Environment Media Network (WEMNET), who were first arrested on their way to a radio talk show to discuss the dangers of sugar cane cultivation in the Bugoma Forest and call on peaceful protests, as well as Sandra Atusinguza, member of AFIEGO who went to the police station to negotiate their release and got arrested herself. These various acts of harassment against environmental and human rights defenders, in addition to the numerous arrests of local residents defending their right to access their own land, show the will of the local and national governments to intimidate and silence them.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Desire Nkurunziza, as well as the other above mentioned human rights defenders, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.


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Uganda: Targeting community land and environmental defenders with criminal offenses is rising as two community land rights defenders arrested in a hotspot district of forced land evictions.



By Witness Radio team

As land and environmental rights defenders strive to better their areas, they continue to bear the brunt of defending communities’ land rights from negative impacts brought by the development projects.

In Kiryandongo District, multinationals have increasingly chosen to adopt a strategy of criminalizing activities of community defenders who are working tirelessly to protect communities’ farming fields.

This criminalization method has captured area police units and use it to cause arbitrary arrest and detention, and prefer various offenses against community land and environmental defenders. Commonly used charges include criminal trespassing on a piece of land communities have cultivated for generations and causing damage to their own property. These actions have weakened the activism charisma of defenders and deter them from continuing with pushing back against illegal and forced land evictions. These tactics do not only undermine the legitimate work of community land and environmental rights defenders but also create an environment of fear and intimidation among those who dare to resist land grabbing and environmental degradation.

On the 22nd of August 2023, two community land rights defenders were rounded up for the seventh time in a period of two (2) years by police officers attached to Kiryandongo district police, and three workers from Great Seasons SMC Limited company Limited arbitrarily arrested and dumped in the Kiryandongo district police cells.

The defenders Barumangabo Sepriano and Ramu Ndahimana rounded -up and arbitrarily arrested from their farming fields preparing for the upcoming planting season, handicapped, and subsequently taken away.

“In the early morning hours, we were suddenly confronted by a group of armed people comprised of Kiryandongo district police personnel and individuals representing the company. Swiftly and forcefully, we were pushed into a white land cruiser bearing the registration number UBF 417C, which was later identified as the property of the evictors. Initially, the captors asserted that one of the grounds for our apprehension was our alleged trespassing on the company’s land.

However, upon arrival at the police station, the officers altered their claims and stated that we had supposedly posed threats to the company’s workers, a charge we vehemently denied. Shortly after a short period of time, another accusation of malicious damage was leveled against us. Astonishingly, we were informed that we were being held accountable for purportedly setting a structure ablaze.” One of the defenders narrated when visited by Witness Radio team at police.

The two defenders are among a group of community land and environmental rights defenders who have been on the forefront advocating for land, social and economic justice of communities in Kiryandongo district whose land is targeted for large-scale farming by multinationals.

Great Seasons SMC Limited, planting coffee on a large scale, is one of the multinational companies in the Kiryandongo district that have violently deprived communities of their rights to own land, and homes, demolished community schools, cut down food crops owned community members/families, destroyed water sources, and privately-owned health centers.

Over 35000 residents have lost their family lands after violent and forceful land evictions to pave the way for industrial agriculture. In addition to the Great Seasons SMC Limited, there are other multinationals implicated in land-grabbing activities, such as Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, Agilis Partners Limited, and Somdiam Limited.

Kiryandongo district police has preferred threatening violence, criminal trespass and malicious damage to property charges against the two (2) defenders.

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Breaking: Criminal trial for seven community defenders opposed to EACOP/Tilenga project forced land eviction has been fixed.



By Witness Radio team

The Magistrate court in Hoima City has announced that the trial for seven community environmental rights defenders will kick off on the 3rd and 4th of October, 2023, respectively. The defenders are part of a larger community of 2500 locals negatively impacted by the East Africa Crude Oil Project (EACOP)/ Tilenga project. The victim community lost its land, properties, food and livestock, livelihood, and people’s rights were grossly violated/abused, and its identity through a violent and forceful land eviction without a court order or an alternative settlement.

The displacement occurred immediately after the arbitrary arrest and imprisonment of victim defenders.
Over 3500 hectares that were lawfully occupied and cultivated by the local community were earmarked for the oil EACOP/Tilenga project several years ago before the imprisonment of defenders and forced land eviction.

The Tilenga feeder pipeline corridor is approximately 95 km long originates from the Tilenga Project Central Processing Facility (CPF), about 8 km northeast of Buliisa town in Buliisa District and 5 km south of the Albert Nile.

The purpose and the need for the Tilenga feeder pipeline, according to Total Energies, is to deliver crude oil to the planned refinery in Kabaale and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Those facing trial include Kataza Samuel, Mulega Eria, Mbombo Steven, Rubyogo David, Karongo Edward, Karongo Stephen, and Rangira Stephen.

The seven face different charges shown in tables below;

File No. 1

Name Court File Number Charge
Kataza Samuel 237 of 2023 Malicious damage to property
Mulega Eria 237 of 2023 Criminal trespass
Karongo Stephen 237 of 2023 Threatening violence
Rangira Stephen 237 of 2023 Threatening violence
Karongo Edward 237 of 2023 Theft

File No.2

Name Court File Number Charge
Kataza Samuel 77 of 2023 Stealing cattle
Mulega Eria 77 of 2023 Stealing cattle
Karongo Stephen 77 of 2023 Stealing cattle
Rangira Stephen 77 of 2023 Stealing cattle

File No. 3

Name Court File Number Charge
Karongo Stephen 238 of 2023 Assault
Karongo Edward 238 of 2023 Assault
Rangira Stephen 238 of 2023 Assault

File No.4

Name Court File Number Charge
Rubyogo David 241 of 2023 Threatening violence

File No. 5

Name Court File Number Charge
Mbombo Stephen 60 of 2023 Malicious Damage to property

File No. 6

Name Court File Number Charge
Mbombo Stephen 64 of 23 Threatening violence

On 15th and 16th August 2023, the court ordered the state prosecutor’s office in Hoima City to disclose to the defense as soon as possible for preparation ahead of the trial.

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