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land, livelihood and investment

Outcry as Court Orders Eviction of 500 Families in Masaka

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About 500 families in Kasanje Village, Kyesiiga Sub-county in Masaka District face an uncertain future after a court on Friday ordered their eviction from a 350-acre piece of land, Chimp Corps report.

 In his ruling, Masaka Chief Magistrate Deogratius Ssejjemba faulted the residents for unlawfully settling on the land belonging to Mr Joseph Bukenya without his consent.

Mr Bukenya ran to court alleging that residents settled on his piece of land that was given to him by Praful Patel before Asians were expelled from Uganda by former president Idi Amin in 1972.

The disputed land used to host Masaka Jaggery Mills Estate.

While delivering his judgment, Mr Ssejjemba said the defendants did not deny occupying the disputed piece of land illegally.

“Among the 12 defendants, only two of them; Mr Mudashiru Bbaale and Mr Lwanga Munyweza denied being occupants on the land, but unfortunately, they signed a document which was given to them by their lawyer, Mr Lawrence Yawe, confirming being residents on the contested land, and there is no proof that they should not be implicated in the matter,” he said.

Court found out that the defendants were not settled by government as per the law.

“After expulsion of Asians from Uganda, it was only government which had the right to their property including buildings and estates and there is no evidence adduced that the defendants were settled on the land by government,” he noted.

Mr Ssejjemba said during the locus visit to the disputed land on February 19 this year, the defendants failed to prove that they occupied the land 12 years before the promulgation of 1995 Constitution as amended.

“You had to show me fig trees, coffee plantations and houses that were in existence 40 years ago, but all what I saw were banana plantations and houses which looked only 15 years older,” Mr Ssejjemba added.

He also ruled that the defendants ought to bring in court an old person who has lived in the village as their witness to confirm how long they have stayed on the land, which they did not.

The chief magistrate said he was satisfied with the evidence brought by Mr Bukenya saying he proved his case beyond reasonable doubt.

“The plaintiff presented a letter from government indicating that he [Mr Bukenya] was entrusted by the Asians to take over their property in 1993,” he said.

Mr Ssejjemba ruled that the defendants should vacate the contested   piece of land within six months.

“I am issuing a permanent injunction against the defendants to vacate the land and also remove all their property including houses and plantations, failure to do so in the given time, force will be applied and you will be responsible to pay the team that will come to evict you,” he ruled.

Mr Paul Buzaale, a defendant in this matter and also the chairperson of Kasanje Village, said the magistrate was biased, insisting that he only based on a fake land title that Mr Bukenya presented and failed to consider their evidence.

“According to the Land Act of 1988, the law legally recognises someone who has settled on a piece of land for more than 12 years as a bona fide occupant, but the magistrate quashed our evidence on that, saying he did not seen what we told him during his inspection yet he only inspected two households and said he was tired,” Mr Buzaale said.

He said the planned eviction will happen over their dead bodies.

“I personally bought five acres on the same disputed piece of land 15 years ago using my hard earned money and you expect me to just leave, no!” he added.

Ms Halima Nakalema, a wife to the late Hassan Tutayisire, one of the defendants, said her husband died of pressure due to stress he got as a result of the said land battle.

“My husband bought a piece of land where we live when he had just married me in 1980s. Now, I am a widow with children. Where do they expect us to go?” she asked.

Mr Mudashiru Bbaale, another defendant, said they plan to appeal against the judgment.

Mr Mudashiru also wondered how the magistrate would see fig trees and old houses yet he only inspected a small part of the affected village.

Source: Chimpreports

 

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A government project is pushing hundreds of families off the land without re-settlement in the Lyantonde district

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By witnessradio.org Team.

Lyantonde – Uganda – without any informed consultations or community engagements, the government of Uganda is constructing a world-class pre-export quarantine facility for animals on a piece of land which has been feedings hundreds of native families for more than three decades.

Once the project takes off, a source of food, employment, education, and a provider of finances to meet basic needs for hundreds of families will be no more.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry, and Fisheries, the facility will act as a quarantine ground for animals before export for a specified period of time for veterinary observation, sampling, testing, and vaccination among others.

The project which targets land measuring approximately 98.2 Hectares, shall facilitate the export of animals and meat in bulk from Burundi, Rwanda, and DR Congo, and other neighboring East and Central African countries.

But, Grace Batine, 57 years and a mother of 12 children who has been deriving a livelihood from the targeted land says, the project is shattering the future of her family as it will deprive them of the right to food and other basic rights.

“I settled on the land in 1994, which has been a source of everything. When the government decided to develop it, why do they fear to consult us and whose responsibility is it to protect and care about our wellbeing? Do they want the European governments to care for us if they can’t,” a poor Batine questioned.

Benon Musinguzi, a resident of Makukulu Village, says they only want the government to compensate if not, resettle them because they have nowhere to go.

“We respect the government’s move to construct the facility but it would not be fair if they evict us from our only livelihood. We think if they have no money for the compensation they should allocate to us part of the land for us to continue thriving. We admit this is not our land but for more than 30 years we have been on this land,” adds Musinguzi a father of 8.

In an interview with the land desk officer at the Ministry of Agriculture, Bruce Turyatunga, claimed the move to evict residents is ready and the government shall not even compensate a single coin to them since they illegally occupied the land.

“This is a government land that was surveyed and we have a title on it, how do you compensate someone on your land, we are even consulting from the Attorney General and Administrator-General to see how these people can compensate us for using our land for all that time,” Mr. Turyatunga added.

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land, livelihood and investment

A new pattern of senior UPDF officers’ involvement in the land grab

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By witnessradio.org Team

 

Barely two weeks after witnessradio.org exposed a senior officer of Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) involved in grabbing land for 20000 inhabitants in Kassanda district, another UPDF officer is allegedly dispossessing 240 families.

 

Uganda People’s Defense Forces is a national force with several Constitutional obligations, and among them is to preserve and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda, which is anchored under article 209 (a) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

 

The reported cases of land grabbing by UPDF officers allude to the fact that both cases use similar tactics to dispossess poor natives that are legally occupying public land with help from district land offices.

 

According to witnessradio.org investigations, both communities have derived their livelihoods from their land and have become victims of fraud in different districts’ land offices as they are blocked from legalizing their existence on the land.

 

Earlier in January 2021, more than 20000 inhabitants in Kyakatebe, Namuganga A, and Namuganga B, leaped out of their skins when the Mityana district land office blocked them from acquiring a freehold lease on their land, saying the said land was acquired by a senior UPDF officer, a one Lieutenant David Kabagambe and others.

 

In Rakai district, the Southern border district between Uganda and Tanzania, another senior UPDF officer a one Captain Geoffrey Kalamuzi, is alleged to have fraudulently acquired land owned by more than 240 families.

 

Residents of Kyakago and Kasese villages in the Kibanda Sub-county, Rakai district explain that they legalized their occupancy in 2010 on a piece of land which Captain Kalamuzi claims to have gotten a lease offer.

 

“As bona fide occupants we got proof of ownership from the district land office in order to secure our livelihood, we wonder how Captain Kalamuzi can acquire legal documents on the same land, says Thaw Seruyima the Kyakago village chairperson.

A father of 30 children, Mugonza Habibu explained that the land Captain Kalamuzi is grabbing, is an ancestral home to more than 200 families on which a number of people from previous generations were buried there.

 

“We are shocked by this behavior of armed men. It’s impunity, which we cannot accept. I have an extended family which I cannot feed if my 5 acres are grabbed, I even question where I can take it”, angrily said Mugonza, a father of 30.

 

He further accused Captain Kalamuzi of misusing his powers as an army commander to grab their land.

 

However, the Secretary Rakai District Land Board Mr. Edward Kamya said Captain Kalamuzi was granted permission to open boundaries of a piece of land adjacent to that of the communities.

 

Captain Geoffrey Kalamuzi denied the allegations of land grabbing. He however said his interest is to map and survey his land. He however did not mention the exact location of a piece of the land he owns.

 

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land, livelihood and investment

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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