By witnessradio.org Team
“I think I should have been able to rescue some of my belongings, but I wasn’t around at the time of eviction. But all the same because even those found on the ground only managed to save small things like mattresses. It was a dark hour to the extent that some people forgot their children behind and instead, ran away with goats,” Twaha Ssebandeke (42), one of hundreds of thousands that were violently evicted from gold mines in Mubende district told witnessradio.org with a shaky voice.
“The forceful eviction affected me because we were ambushed without any notice. They should have given us adequate notice to move our property out to avoid the incalculable loss suffered. Can you imagine, they gave us just two hours to vacate the mining area that we occupied for years! We had accumulated wealth from that area, but it was all lost in just hours,” Ssebandeke added, but this time crying.
On August 4, 2017, Gertrude Nanyunja Njuba, the investor claims to be the sole licensed person to extract all gold in Mubende district used soldiers from Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Uganda Police Force to demolish at least 120,000 residential, commercial and community buildings throughout six villages of; Lujinji A, Lujinji B, Lujinji C, Kampala, Kayonza and Lubaali all located in Kitumbi and Bukuya sub-counties in Mubende district.
The gold-rich land which Njuba, a state House director on land matters, forcibly obtained after evicting thousands of people including extended families which had lived side by side for decades, measures 12-square miles. The forceful eviction saw relatives scattered among the neighboring towns and villages and in some cases as far as other districts on top of forcing them to abandon their multi-million businesses and biological children in favour of animals.
All families were plunged into homelessness now living under temporally shelters covered by tarpaulins as opposed to the good houses they lived in before being razed.
After the eviction, Ssebandeke said “I approached the security personnel to request them to allow me at least get out poles to enable me put up temporary shelter somewhere, they rejected it.”
“We were deprived of shelter, we are now suffering with our children almost without anything to eat. I can now fail to get even Shs 2,000 [less than a dollar] yet I could earn between Shs 40,000 [$11.1] and Shs 50,000 [$13.8] daily.”
To this date, the land is still under heavy protection by security personnel with strict orders not allow any person to access it. But according to available facts ascertained by witnessradio.org the land in question covers both public and private mile land owned by six different landlords.
witnessradio.org has established in its investigations that different people owned small plots after successfully buying them from different lawful owners of land.
“People who owned land lawfully in the mining area, also lost out yet they had developed them to the level of renting out rooms and by the way, some people engaged in farming which fetched them money. As we speak, we are seeing destroyed things being driven away by trucks as scrap yet those mining machines were obtained expensively through bank loans ranging between Shs2m [$555] and Shs 3m [833.3], we are informed that they are being sold out at Shs 200,000 [$55.5] and sometimes, Shs 150,000 [$41.6] to them by UPDF solders and police” Robert Ssempewo, the chairperson of Mubende gold mining grounds said.