10 February 2013

Uganda: Mulwana Loses Land to Ochieng's Widow

The High Court in Kampala has ruled that deceased industrialist James Mulwana fraudulently acquired land belonging to the widow of late Buganda loyalist Daudi Ochieng.

Justice Percy Tuhaise of the Land Division on Thursday ruled in favour of Rehema Namuli, saying she had satisfactorily convinced court that the land title had been changed without her knowledge. The judge ordered that the property and the land title be returned to Namuli.

"The defendants did not purchase the land from the plaintiff. There were no bonafide purchases. It is my finding that the plaintiff has proved fraud against the defendants," the judge stated.

The judgement was delivered in the presence of Namuli's daughter, Linda Ochieng and lawyer Kavuma Kabenge. The deceased's lawyer, Peter Musoke, was absent.

The case was filed on August 19, 2004. Namuli Ochieng, 60, accused Mulwana of illegally acquiring the land on Block 243, plot 786 in Kitintale, measuring 0.75 acres.

Documents show that Namuli acquired the property on June 26, 1971. Namuli and Mulwana had been childhood friends, for four decades since childhood.

When Namuli testified in the case last year, she narrated that her woes started in December 2002, when she borrowed sh30m from Mulwana to service a loan, and handed him the land title as security.

She stated that they agreed that she would refund Mulwana's money after three months. Namuli claims when she returned the money, a month after borrowing it, two months before the repayment deadline elapsed, Mulwana declined it saying he had already sold the property.

But in his testimony, Mulwana absolved himself of any wrongdoing and branded Namuli dishonest. He said she pleaded with him to buy the land from a mone-lending company, Investment Masters limited, that had put up the property for sale, to recover the sh30m loan.

The judge ordered that Namuli be paid lost revenue for 10 years that she was supposed to earn from the rental units. She collected sh1.4m monthly, before the property was taken. Court said she was entitled to the money that had accumulated since July 2002.

Speaking outside court shortly after delivery of judgement, a teary Linda Ochieng said God had enabled the judge to uncover the fraudulent purchase of land now valued at over a billion shillings. She said in 2007, the property was worth sh800m. A calm and collected Namuli, who was seated in another courtroom, expressed satisfaction, saying she was contented with the judgement.

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