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Natives and Businesses

The Innocent and Invisible Victims of Njuba’s Violent Eviction of 120,000 Families Off 12-Square Mile Mineral-Rich Land

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By witnessradio.org Team

“It’s no-longer normal, everything has changed because of the army and police which took our good big house with my good clothes and shoes. We have been going to a good school, my parents could often afford enough good meals, and basic necessities-especially clothes, shoes, playing materials among others that made life enjoyable because of our caring parents” Shakirah Nvannungi (10), one of children of 120,000 families that were violently evicted from gold mines in Mubende district tells witnessradio.org with a soft voice.

The good life were short-lived. August 4, 2017 when Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and Uganda Police Force (UPF) personnel ascended on the 12-square mile land covering six villages; Lujinji A, Lujinji B, Lujinji C, Kampala, Kayonza and Lubaali villages all found in both Kitumbi and Bukuya sub-counties in Mubende district to carry on a violent eviction.

Nvannungi said, as schools broke off for second term holiday, her and the young brother Abdul Ssempagama (8) found themselves in ramshackle house covered by a tarpaulin only to be told by their father who picked them from school that it was their new home after a government official by the names of Njuba ended their average life.

The 12-square mile covering both public and private mile land owned by six different landlords, was forcefully taken by Gertrude Nanyunja Njuba, a State House Director on Land matters using three mining companies namely; Kamalenge Mining Company, A.U.C Mining Company and Gemstone International in which she has stakes.

Two months later after eviction, the children of the evictees have started feeling the incalculable effects of Njuba’s forceful eviction without compensation.

Found at their new neighbor’s house doing holiday work Nvannungi and Ssempagama looked very determined wanting to study hard and reverse their current bad condition despite having no hope to return to school soon.

Nvannungi said, she’s studying to become a bank manager in order to make enough money and buy a good house where she can live with her parents. While Ssempagama wants to be an engineer, which position he wants to use to recover all their lost properties including land.

Nvannungi couldn’t forget to say something about changes in her everyday life. “The situation is now bad compared to what it was while staying in the mining area. We had a lot of money those days, but we suffer because we even fail to get food.”

Ssempagama, the brother said that “I am here because we were evicted from the mining area.”

A P.3 pupil at Wilton Nursery and Primary School, also said that “I dearly miss the good conditions we lived in while in the mining area. We used to have good meals, but we are now being fed on bad meals due to inadequacy of funds.”

He explained that his parents ran a bar with pool tables which fetched them a lot of money but he observes that “we no longer have them yet they were our source of income.”

The practice by government officials such as Njuba who works at State House to use state forces to evict poor communities off their land repeatedly illustrates sheer futility of conducting evictions without adequate consultation and compensation hence violating people’s rights to own property.

Natives and Businesses

Fresh violence in Kiryandongo as a project affected family head narrowly survived death

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By witnessradio.org Team

Kiryandongo – Uganda – families that lost their land to multinationals and currently trapped in the middle of the plantations have begun a year with fresh attacks from allegedly their evictors.

Batumbya Charles, 61, a resident of Kikungulu village, Kitwala parish in Kiryandongo district is the first victim of fresh violence since 2021 started.

Batumbya, a father of 15, whose land is in the middle of the sugarcane plantations owned by Kiryandongo Sugar Limited was attacked from his home on a previous Sunday at 8:00 PM by two unidentified plain-clothed men who were armed with pangas and batons.

Kiryandongo Sugar Limited together with Agilis Partners Limited and Great Season SMC Limited are forcefully and violently evicting more than 35,000 inhabitants to give way for agribusiness projects.

Since 2017 when the evictions started, communities have complained about acts of violence meted against them by multinational companies from sexual and gender-based violence against women, defilement, torture, beating, kidnap to illegal arrest and detention among others.

“I was at home alone after my wife traveled with all the children to my in-laws. In the evening I was inside my house and I heard the noise of someone who had fallen down. So, I rushed to open the door to check what was happening. As soon I opened the door, two men forced themselves into my house. I was arrested, pushed down and no sooner I fell down than the attackers started beating me” Narrated Batumbya.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Batumbya further said that in the process, he tried to defend himself but he got overpowered by the attackers and started cutting his body parts using a panga.

“I have since lost my four-finger of my right arm to the attackers and now nursing wounds,” said, Batumbya.

Families living in the middle of plantations said they are vulnerable to attacks from multinational companies as violence is the order of the day.

They accuse multinational companies of intimidation and forcing them to receive as little as Uganda Shillings 150,000 equivalent to US Dollar 40 as compensation and when one refuses, such conduct is deemed disrespectful by investors and attracts serious beating.

“We suspect investors are responsible for the attack of Batumbya since we are in the middle of the plantations. They have tried to evict us and we are resisting, no one else is torturing us apart from them”, said one Mesarch Kagina a resident of Kikungulu.

However, the newly deployed Kiryandongo District Police Commander, SP Odonga Tonny, pleased to work with all stakeholders including communities to end the violence.

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Livelihood

The criminal trial of 8 land rights defenders flops for the fourth time

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A photo of 8 land rights defenders from right Ramu, Ndahimana, Amos Wafula, Martin Haweka, Martin Munyansia, Eliot Talemwa, Samuel Kusiima, George Rwakabisha and Fred Mwawula, at court.

By witnessradio.org Team.

Kiryandongo – Uganda – the criminal trial of 8 land defenders in Kiryandongo has failed to take off for the fourth time following the transfer of the trial magistrate.

On 20th December 2020, the Judiciary reshuffled its officers, and Kiryandongo Grade 1 magistrate Augustine Alule was transferred and replaced with His Worship Derrick Byamugisha.

According to the reshuffle notice, the new magistrate Byamugisha who was scheduled to report to his duty station immediately, the trial day got him handing over to his successor, which caused the fourth adjournment.

Fred Mwawula, Ramu Ndahimana, Samuel Kusiima, Martin Munyansia, Martin Haweka, Amos Wafula, Eliot Talemwa, and George Rwakabisha are accused of threatening violence, a charge which carries a punishment of four (4) years on conviction.

The prosecution alleges that on September 4th, 2020 the eight and others at large while at Kisalanda, threatened to harm a police officer and workers of Great Season SMC limited.

However, on October 16, 2020, the prosecution informed the court that investigations were done and the prosecutor’s chambers were ready to proceed with the trial.

Before the illegal arrest and detention and prosecution of the 8 defenders, NGOs including Witness Radio – Uganda, GRAIN, and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa released a Kiryandongo report “land grabs at gun point”, which exposed gross human rights violations and abuses committed by security agencies and 3 multinationals against communities. The motive for persecution is regarded as retaliation from district security agencies and multinational companies pinned in the report.

The defenders believe that the charges brought against them are linked to their human rights work of mobilizing and empowering communities to legally resist the forceful and violent evictions.

The next trial is scheduled for 24th February 2021.

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Livelihood

The criminal trial of 8 land rights defenders is set to take off tomorrow

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By Witnessradio.org Team

Kiryandongo – Uganda – the criminal trial of the 8 land rights defenders is set to start tomorrow December 15th, 2020, at 10 am at Kiryandongo Magistrate’s court. This follows after the flop of the November trial due to the absence of the magistrate.

Fred Mwawula, Ramu Ndahimana, Samuel Kusiima, Martin Munyansia, Martin Haweka, Amos Wafula, Eliot Talemwa, and George Rwakabisha are facing a prison sentence of four years upon conviction of threatening violence charge.

The prosecution alleges that on September 4th, 2020 the eight and others at large while at Kisalanda, threatened to harm one of the police officers guarding Great Season SMC limited’s plantation.

On November 12, 2020, the prosecution made the disclosure and informed the court that investigations were done and the prosecutor’s chambers were ready to proceed to trial.

Before the illegal arrest and prosecution of the 8 defenders, NGOs including Witness Radio – Uganda, GRAIN, and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa released a Kiryandongo report “landgrabs at gunpoint”, which exposed gross human rights violations and abuses committed by security agencies and 3 multinationals against communities. The motive for persecution is regarded as retaliation from district security agencies and multinational companies pinned in the report.

The defenders believe that the charges brought against them are linked to their human rights work of mobilizing and empowering communities to legally resist the forceful and violent evictions.

 

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