New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Minister Nantaba Halts Eviction of 43 Families

Lands State Minister Idah Nantaba has blocked eviction of over 40 families in Buleega village, Najja sub-county in Buikwe District.

The families had been evicted by a Dutch citizen, Triwe Riis Jewsew, who is also a proprietor of Riis Coffee Company Limited.

Riis had fenced off the over 100 acres of land which the families are occupying. She had claimed that she bought the land from Edward Galabuzi and that she possessed the land title before ordering the residents to vacate.

The eviction forced Buikwe South Member of Parliament, Dr. Michael Lulume Bayiga to petition Nantaba to intervene. On Friday, Nantaba stormed Buikwe to resolve the land wrangle.

During the visit, she toured the land in question together with the victims and the Dutch's farm manager, Joseph Male.

Earlier on Tuesday, residents clashed with the Dutch's private security operatives trying to remove the fence. Chaos ensued as security operatives fired live bullets, injuring some of the residents.

The victims reported to Nantaba that the Dutch also used Police to harass them and that whoever was seen on the fenced land was thoroughly beaten.

John Bosco Ssekamatte, one of the residents who was shot on the leg, is now nursing wounds.

"We had fled from our houses just to save our lives and family members. Our land was fenced off minus any compensation. The Dutch first influenced the local leaders who just kept a deaf ear as we were being harassed," said Bosco Nameda, one of the victims.

After the tour, Nantaba held an open meeting of the residents and Riis in which she asked her to present the title showing that she possessed the land.

But Riis failed to present the title forcing Nantaba to direct the residents to uproot the fence. She also ordered residents to reoccupy their land with immediate effect.

Nantaba ordered Buikwe District Police Commander, Caroline Akoth to arrest the security operatives whom the residents accused of shooting at them.

"We want and we are ready to protect investors but only those who follow and respect the law," Nantaba said.

"I am disappointed with the Police's act of arresting the residents who were evicted and shot by security operatives. How come the Police just arrested the residents and the security operatives were let free?" she wondered.

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