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Mubende Land Grabs: Over 3,000 People Occupying 3-Square Miles To Be Evicted For Commercial Goat Rearing

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By witnessradio.org team

While two political leaders in Mubende district have made an intervention, the protracted conflict between residents and Milly Namutebi, a woman claims to be the land owner still rages.

Benny Namugwanya, the woman MP Mubende district and Joseph Kakooza, MP Buweekula, used a gathering which was attended by both residents and the ‘self-proclaimed’ landlord to stop her from carrying out land “illegal evictions” with immediate effect.

“What you are doing is illegal,” MP Kakooza told Namutebi, “you should stop these evictions immediately.

“We shall take you to court should you continue torturing our people,” Kakooza added.

SETTLED FOR DECADES

Nicosia Ssempewo, a 70-year-old man, told the gathering that he settled on the now disputed land in 1948. He owns a piece of 20 acres.

Dadidyoni Ssebaka, settled on the land in 1978, after purchasing 30 acres.

Other tenants who addressed the same gathering include; Michael Talutambude, who said that he settled on this particular land in 1977, and Koloneri Bbosa who came in 1959.

All these tenants who form just a small partial of the larger communities lived in peace on a tract spanning 3-square mile which they all considered their ancestral land with their children.

These communities are now encircled by fear after Namutebi, came recently out of the blue to claim ownership of their land.

Residents, have lost hope as the new landlord now wants them to either pay her money, enter into new agreements with her indicating that she’s renting them land, or surrender part of their land to her in case of the failure to meet her new demands.

In fact, Namutebi made it public that out the entire communities, she only recognizes 17, a statement that shocked victims more.

“They are actually squatters on the land because land doesn’t belong to them, it’s my land…and I just recognize 17 bona fide occupants,” said Namutebi.

Before the meeting that sucked in the political leaders, Namutebi had hired soldiers of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Commanded by Major Eric Kigambwoha, to destroy their crops that included, tree plantations, banana plantations, coffee plantations, among others, claiming that they had not sought for a prior “permission” from the landlord.

But in defence, Kigambwoha, claimed that one of them Daus Sunday, bought unspecified chunk of land on the disputed tract. However, some of the residents threatened him with death alongside his goats, thus seeking soldiers’ protection, he said.

LOOSING LIVELIHOOD

Like other parts of Mubende district, over 3,000 victims from 16 villages in Kirwanyi parish, Butoroogo sub-county Mubende district, used the land for farming.

So, the grab of their land means losing their livelihoods because their families cannot grow food to feed themselves, and sell to make a living.

“I have been using my land to grow food for my children and selling to earn money to look after them and paying school fees for them ever since I settled on this land,” said Bbosa.

CONTEMPT OF LEADERS’ ORDER

While leaders’ involvement offered hope to the tenants, the continued destruction of food crops by the said landlord suggests otherwise.

The weird behavior by the self-proclaimed landlord thus, raises questions on the authenticity of the claims, as she is engaged in illegal acts against the tenants.

SOME CRITICAL DETAILS ABOUT THE DISPUTED LAND

The land in dispute spans 3-square miles, comprising 16 villages and was first registered on November 1st 1928 in the names of Zakaliya Kikonyogo.

After his death, its proprietorship went to Henry Kaaya as its administrator in 2003. But now, the title is in the names of Edith Nakabugo, Henry Kaaya, and Nicholas, which gives them ownership.

The villages that sit on this land are;

  • Nakasagazi
  • Kiture
  • Kilwanyi
  • Kibalagazi
  • Kirwanyi Central
  • Kibalagazi
  • Kakakanembe
  • Bukyamuzi
  • Kisombe
  • Mulanda
  • Kisombe
  • Mulanda

 

 

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I write Human Rights

Industrial Park Development in Buikwe is dispossessing hundreds of Native Families…

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Structures of houses demolished by G.M Sugar in Namabere village, Buikwe District.

 

By witnessradio.org Team.

Buikwe – Uganda – Close to 1000 families in Namabere landing site, Buikwe District are forcefully being evicted off their land to give way for an industrial park, witnessradio.org has learned.

The industrial park which measures approximately 329.5 Ha, along the shores of Lake Victoria, is the brainchild of Magan Patel, the head of Nile Group of Companies. It is not clear whether the park authorities obtained the social and environmental impact assessment from environmental regulatory bodies as it is adjacent to the lake.

witnessradio.org findings indicate that so far the park has attracted about 26 companies amongst others include; Nile Agro Ltd; Nile Aluminum Ltd; Nile Batteries Ltd; Nile Wheat Ltd; Auro Meera Paper Ltd; Modern Distillers Ltd; Modern Laminates Ltd; Nile GM Plastics Ltd; Modern Rubber Ltd; and Cable Ltd and many others.

According to the affected persons, GM Sugar Company one of the companies targeting their land, since November 2020 with the help of Buikwe police has been forcing natives to receive payment in form of transport on a gunpoint to vacate the land. The payment ranges from 100,000 – 200,000 Ugandan shillings to residents of the area to vacate their land.

“Imagine at a gunpoint, someone is paid Uganda Shillings 100,000, his/her properties get destroyed and your forced to vacate where you earn a living. How do you feel? Do you know how hard this is?” angrily asked a 45-year-old Bayati Kafuuko.

Bayati, a mother of six (6) said that she has nowhere to go and left with nothing to feed her family since all her property was destroyed by the armed men.

“What can that money do, it can’t even meet transport costs,” added Bayati.
Several affected persons revealed that before the eviction, there was neither consultation and concession to the project nor valuation and fair compensation of their property.

“Ever since the attack started we live in fear, we cannot sleep because most of our houses were pulled down. All our fish was taken by soldiers, we have nothing to eat,” said a 58-year-old Francis Obiire.

He added that he cannot accept being illegally evicted on land he has lived on since his birth.
“My father has lived on this land since 1950. I was born here in 1962. With this little money, which land do they expect me to buy,” Obiire added.

The chairman of Namabere village Mr. Ochen Peter said his people are being intimidated without due process is followed. He further said that workers of the investors under the protection of police carry out daily patrolling of the area just to intimidate residents.

When witnessradio.org contacted Ssekamatte Musa, one of the GM Sugar company managers, he declined to speak.

“I am busy, I will call you,” he said.

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Two Witness Radio members, 26 others have been released on bail after spending close to 3 years in jail…

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By witnessradio.org Team

Mubende – Uganda – the High Court in Mubende has released two Witness Radio members and 26 others on bail after spending 28 months in prison. In late 2018, all the 28 were targeted and arrested because of their role in empowering the community to lawfully desist an illegal eviction, charged with 9 counts including murder and aggravated robbery, and remanded.

This was the second bail attempt after the 2019 bail for two Witness Radio members Grace Nantubiro and Ronald Mugwabya was rejected by the then Mubende High Court resident Judge Justice Joseph Murangira on pretty flimsy excuses.

Before the arrest of Grace Nantubiro and Ronald Mugwabya, the duo had used the media platforms local radio stations, and community meetings to call upon Mubende district authorities to intervene and stop an illegal and forceful eviction of 3500 inhabitants off five villages namely; Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera, and Lwensanga in East Division in Mubende municipality by one Kaweesi George.

Also in the line of fighting for the protection of the community’s land, Grace Nantubiro, Ronald Mugwabya, and some members of the press at one point were waylaid and kidnapped by laborers of the businessman. Mubende police rescued them but the perpetrators remained scot-free.

Due to public pressure, the situation was arrested by the then Mubende district police commander Martin Okoyo and other leaders, stopped the eviction, and ordered the withdraw of the businessman’s casual laborers from the community’s land until the land matter is resolved.

Shortly after the withdrawal, the laborers were secretly returned on the conflicted land in the wee hours in the following night and a fight ensued between businessman’s laborers and some locals. In a process, the life of one Yunusu Tabu was lost. Tabu was a manager of laborers.

The deadly scuffle introduced the criminalization of land rights defense and caused a random arrest that targeted Grace Nantubiro and Ronald Mugwabya because of their work. Some of the activists namely; Mugisha Focus, Ssekamana Kaloli, Mwikirize Keleti, Ssewanyana Kizza John, Tumwine Moses, Bigirwa Gilbert, Mulindwa Tadeo, Kayesu Patrick, Kyalimpa Tobias, Mugisha Stephen, Mwesigye John, Kiiza John Bosco, Byakatonda Aroon, Manirikiza Elidefunce, Tabalamule William, Kobwemi Christopher,  Kiwanuka Emmanuel, Senkula Charles, Ssemombwe George, Musinguzi Paul, Biryomumisho Fred, Maniriho Forodis,  Habimana Ernest, Byaruhanga Emmanuel, Mwesigye Julius, and Kezaala Saul were severely beaten and tortured by Mubende police during the arrest and as result, some still have visible scars all over their bodies.

The ill-planned arrest and conduct by Mubende police facilitated a land grab of more than 322.5 hectares, registered on Block 168; Plots 19, 22, and 23 in Mubende Municipality, Mubende district.

While appearing before Mubende High Court Judge Justice Isaac Muwata, all the 28 were released on a cash bail of 100,000 Uganda Shillings (one hundred thousand shillings) equivalent to about US dollars 28 while sureties were conditioned UGX 2 million not cash.

Other conditions, the 28 are required to report to the Mubende High Court registrar’s chambers every first Monday of the month.

 

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Renewing demand for justice; the 28 land rights defenders have applied for bail

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By witnessradio.org Team

Mubende – Uganda – the defense lawyers of the 28 community land rights defenders have filed new applications for bail at Mubende High Court after spending 3 years in prison.

The 28 include two staff members of Witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald.

Others are; Mugisha Focus, Ssekamana Kaloli, Mwikirize Keleti, Ssewanyana Kizza John, Tumwine Moses, Bigirwa Gilbert, Mulindwa Tadeo, Kayesu Patrick, Kyalimpa Tobias, Mugisha Stephen, Mwesigye John, Kiiza John Bosco, Byakatonda Aroon, Manirikiza Elidefunce, Tabalamule William, Kobwemi Christopher,  Kiwanuka Emmanuel, Senkula Charles, Ssemombwe George, Musinguzi Paul, Biryomumisho Fred, Maniriho Forodis,  Habimana Ernest, Byaruhanga Emmanuel, Mwesigye Julius and Kezaala Saul.

They are facing 9 counts including murder, and aggravated robbery among others.

The prosecution alleges that on October 12, 2018, the accused at Kambuye-Kanseera, Mubende district, killed and robbed Yunus Kasajja Tabu of his three mobile phones.

Late Tabu allegedly died during a fight with land grab affected community whose assailants are still unknown. Tabu was a manager of local businessman one Kaweesi George, under the protection of police grabbed 322.5 hectares and violently evicted over 3500 lawful occupants on Block 168; Plot 19, 22 and 23 covering five villages namely; Kambuye, Kikono, Kyabaana, Kanseera and Lwensanga in East Division, Mubende Municipality, Mubende district. The land is adjacent to Kaweeri Coffee Plantation is covering on.

However, police carried out a random arrest and targeted land rights defenders and activists that were mobilizing and empowering the landgrab affected community to resist an illegal and forceful eviction.

In January 2019, the attempt to get bail for witnessradio.org‘s Nantubiro Grace and Mugwabya Ronald was denied High Court in Mubende’s justice Joseph Mulangira.

According to officials at Mubende High Court, bail applications will be heard this afternoon.

 

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