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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

……Special Report abridged testimony…… How a pregnant woman was beaten by multinationals and local police over her land…



…..Special Report abridged testimony…..

How a pregnant woman was beaten by multinationals and local police over her land…

By Team

Wineza Kuluwudini, is one of the many smallholder farmers that have tested the wrath of the multinational companies and police in Kiryandongo district because she was found digging in her garden.

Kuluwudini, a mother of four children before her 16 acres were grabbed by Great Season SMC Company Limited, she would earn about 2 million shillings equivalent to USD 720 per season after harvesting cabbages, rice, matooke and maize.

Great Seasons SMC limited, solely owned by a Sudan investor currently based in Dubai, is part of the three multinational companies that are forcefully evicting more than 35000 poor off their land to give way for agribusiness investments without any legal process. Other companies include Kiryandongo Sugar Limited owned by the RAI Dynasty from Mauritius and Kenya; and Agilis Partners Limited owned by American twin brothers.

Kuluwudini a resident of Kisalanda – Jerusalem, Kitwala sub-county in Kiryandongo district was on a fateful day of 8th September 2020 attacked by a group of armed men attached to Great Season SMC Company under the protection of police officers attached to Kiryandongo police station led by a one Abura Felix attached to Kiryandongo district police.

According to medical reports seen by Witness Radio – Uganda, Wineza Kuluwudini was 8 (eight) months pregnant at the time when she was attacked and severely beaten.

“I was cultivating in my garden at around 9 am local time when a group of 7 men attacked me, they asked what I was doing and I replied that I was in my garden digging. Out of the blue, they started beating me, I pleaded that they should stop but they could not, I felt unconscious after counting to about 8 strokes, beating every part of my body including my stomach, and yet they would visibly see that I was pregnant but could not stop beating me” Narrated Wineza Kuluwudini.

According to an eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, after beating Kuluwudini into a state unconsciousness, the seven-male attackers, grabbed her from the ground, and dumped her into their tractor to be transferred to an unknown place.

Ndahimana Ramu, the husband to Kuluwudini told Witness Radio – Uganda that after escaping from police and company workers that had stormed their garden, he briefly hid in the bush and later returned back home but said, he could not

see his wife.

He said, he called his fellow villagers to mount a search exercise for the missing wife.

“In few minutes, we found her laying alongside the road and she was too weak and could not walk. We briefly took her back home to bath and later to the hospital, but condition was so worrying” Narrated Ndahimana.

Ndahimana further explained that upon reaching the hospital, the medical team told them that the baby was not in a bad state but the victim (Kuluwudini) may fail to do her usual work and that indeed his wife cannot continue with the said work.

He added that he was blocked from opening up a criminal case at Kiryandongo district police by  police officer Abura and company workers.

According to Ms. Bulyerali Joan, one of the victim’s lawyers, the companies are preferring violent methods to intimidate and force the poor villagers to leave their only available source of income.

“This is not the first case of torturing a pregnant woman in Kiryandongo, we have received several victims of brutality, rape, and defilement by workers of multinational companies. Police, too has perpetrated brutality.” She added.

Joan also blames the police for being indifferent and paying lip-service to the vulnerable women.

“I am shocked! Some have suffered miscarriages, their plight has been exacerbated by the inaction of the would be protector – the police. It will either condone or pay aloof to these heinous crimes that threaten motherhood whenever called upon to act” She noted.

Witness Radio – Uganda condemns in the strongest terms possible the use of violence against poor communities, and demands that police and other agencies should protect the poor communities land.

Defending Land And Environmental Rights

The abducted community land rights defender is found and released on a police bond.



By Witness Radio Team.

A Kawaala Zone II community land rights defender who was waylaid and arrested by eight (8) armed policemen has been found at Old Kampala regional police headquarters and released without a charge.

On 31st/10/2022, armed Policemen arrested Kabugo Michael who was due to set off for a community meeting between the residents, Witness Radio – Uganda, and the Accountability Counsel intended to discuss issues surrounding their land interests targeted by the infrastructural project.

Kabugo is a community land rights defender in Kawaala Zone II Rubaga division, Kampala district. He is one of the community land rights defenders facing reprisals for defending the community’s land targeted by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) for a drainage channel construction and expansion project funded by the World Bank.

After a long day search for the abducted community defender, Witness Radio lawyers found him held at the Old Kampala regional police headquarters.

Mrs. Adongo Sarah, one of the victim’s lawyers said the police reviewed an old file where the victim was accused of ‘fraud’ and re-interviewed him.

“He was able to make an additional statement, and his police bond and that of his other colleagues accused alongside with on the old file was extended to Friday 4th November this year.” She added.

She further said Michael’s arrest was arbitrary, adding that even the Officer in Charge of the case at Old Kampala Regional Criminal Investigations Department could not give reasons.

The victim’s lawyers believe these increased actions of arrests, kidnaps, and detentions of Kawaala community land rights defenders are reprisals for their work of opposing

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Defending Land And Environmental Rights

Breaking: A Kawaala community land rights defender kidnapped and taken to unknown destinations, others on the run.



By Witness Radio-Uganda.

Armed Policemen have this morning waylaid and arrested a community land rights defender in Kawaala zone II Rubaga division, Kampala district, Witness Radio-Uganda has learned.

Mr. Kabugo Micheal is a renowned community land rights defender who advocates for fair compensation of the community land on an ongoing project of Lubigi drainage channel expansion funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

According to eyewitnesses, the defender was at Mr. Kasozi’s home (one of the community defenders) before setting off for a community meeting between the residents, Witness Radio – Uganda, and Accountability Counsel. The meeting was to discuss issues surrounding their land interests targeted by the infrastructural project.

“As he was sitting on a Boda (motorcycle taxi driven in Uganda and other East African States), police rounded him up before his arrest. We saw him being manhandled. They (police) forced him onto one of the police bodas before he was taken to unknown destinations.” Said an eyewitness.

Another eyewitness further explained that he was arbitrarily arrested by eight (8) armed policemen on a police patrol

Mr. Kasozi Paul Ssengendo who also witnessed the arbitrary arrest of Michael said police are targeting them with arrests because of their work to resist forced eviction by Kampala Capital City Authority.

“I am currently on the run. I was a target of police but I managed to escape.” The defender told Witness Radio.

In June this year, Mr kabugo and 5 others were arrested and falsely charged with forgery, a charge they said is retaliation for their work in fighting for their land rights.

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Accountable Development To Communities

Breaking: Court dismisses a criminal case against a community land rights defender for want of prosecution.



By Witness Radio Team.

Kiryandongo. A criminal trespass case against a community land rights defender has been dismissed over the prosecution’s failure to adduce evidence before the Chief Magistrate Court that pinned the community defender on the alleged charges.

On 27th October 2021, Kiryandongo Chief Magistrate Court charged Otyaluk David with criminal trespass and remanded him to Masindi prison. He was later granted court bail and since then, he has been traveling 48 kilometers to and from court every fortnight.

Before he was presented before a court, Otyaluk was kidnapped and illegally detained in Kiryandongo Central Police Station (CPS) cells for five (5) days for trespassing on a piece of land he (Otyaluk) had lived and cultivated since he was born.

In the afternoon of 21st October, two (2) armed men cladding Uganda People Defense Forces (UPDF) uniform and police personnel raided Otyaluk’s home and got him kidnapped to an unknown destination. UPDF soldiers guard Kiryandongo Sugar Limited plantations.

“On the day of his kidnap, Otyaluk was found praying in his house. In a blink of an eye, the defender was rounded up and bundled onto a vehicle owned by Kiryandongo Sugar Limited, forcefully evicting us off our land. We later learned that he was taken into evictor’s facilities where he was kept for some time before being transferred to Kiryandongo CPS” A family member remembers.

A family member further added that before the kidnap, Otyaluk’s family had lost about 12 acres of land to Kiryandongo Sugar Limited.

“Company workers under the protection of soldiers brought a tractor and plowed acres of semi-mature maize, beans, sorghum, and sim-sim. We were only left with a small piece of land where our house sits and we are currently trapped in the middle of a sugarcane plantation” a family member added.

Since the trial period was announced, the prosecution failed to bring witnesses to pin Otyaluk for trespassing on his land. It was only on the 19th of July, 2022 during a court session, one Adamuru Peter, allegedly to be a company manager turned up as a company representative but not as a witness.

In her ruling last week, a magistrate at Kiryandongo Magistrate court discontinued the trial of Otyaluk and dismissed the case.

Otyaluk is one of the luckiest among hundreds of community land and environmental rights defenders currently under persecution to have his case dismissed. It’s an order of the day for the community land and environmental rights defenders to be kidnapped, arbitrarily arrested, and tortured on orders of investors for their work of mobilizing the communities to desist land grabs.

Kiryandongo Sugar Limited is among multinationals forcefully evicting over 35000 local and indigenous people off their land to give way to large-scale agribusinesses.

Kiryandongo Sugar Limited is one of the many companies owned by the Rai Group of Mauritius. The dynasty owns several other companies in DR Congo, Kenya and Malawi, and Uganda. A dynasty owns companies such as West Kenya Sugar (which owns Kabras Sugar), Timsales Limited, Menengai Oil Refineries, Rai Ply, and Webuye Panpaper.

In Uganda, the Rai Group of Mauritius owns Nile Ply limited, Kinyara Sugar Limited, and Masindi Sugar Limited among others. One of its directors is a shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company, listed in the Panama Papers database recently.

The same company has fraudulently gotten a license to replace part of Bungoma natural forest with a sugarcane plantation.

“Court has shown today that the company is maliciously arresting us to keep us in jails. To weaken our hearts, wasting our time and resources. They intentionally do this because we refused to surrender the land we have lived on for years. It is shaming that the government has failed to protect the rights of the poor people.” The defender noticed.

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