22 March 2019

Uganda: Widow Drags Co-Wife to Land Probe Commission

Kampala — The widow of a Biochemist professor has dragged her co-wife to the commission investigating land matters, accusing her of grabbing 87acres in Kashari, Mbarara District.

Ms Grace Birabwa Namutebi was a wife of Prof William Isharaza from Mbarara University of Science and Technology who passed away in May 2016.

"I have worked for this property, it's a family property, it's a family foundation, it's a source of income and I want it returned to me. I also want police off my land," Ms Birabwa who was Prof Isharaza's legally wedded wife, told the commission on Wednesday.

She said after the death of her husband, the co-wife, Ms Edith Kekimuli, with the help of the former Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, evicted her and her children from the land.

The police later handed the disputed land to Ms Kekimuli who had two children with the late professor.

Ms Birabwa narrated how together with her husband, they contributed resources to buy the contested land.

However, Prof Isharaza later used the land as collateral for a loan in Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) to develop the land.

Prof Isharaza reared friesian cows on the land while his wife used another part to grow matooke.

However, the professor allegedly rundown the farm rendering him unable to pay the loan.

"When he failed to pay the Shs58m loan, the Non-Performing Assets Recovery Trust (NPART) attached the property and put it up for sale. I bought it at Shs20.5m," Ms Birabwa said.

She later failed to transfer the land into her children's names after documents she was given by NPART as proof of purchase went missing at home.

Ms Birabwa's purchase of the contested land was confirmed by the NPART team leader, Mr Herbert Kwikiriza. He confirmed selling the land to her in 1998.

Mr Kwikiriza told the land probe that since she was part of the family, Ms Birabwa had not requested for vacant possession of the said contested land.

He described as illegal a move by Stanbic Bank that vacated a mortgage on the land in 2014 to have Prof Isharaza as the registered proprietor.

"It is an illegal document because Stanbic Bank does not deal with the law on NPART... Therefore, the purchase is entitled to her property," Mr Kwikiriza said, adding that that responsibility was vested with NPART.

Mr Kwikiriza told the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led commission that if instructed to help the purchaser (Ms Birabwa) to transfer the contested land into her name, he would need 60 days to write to the commissioner land registration to re-instate the mortgages that had been removed before the land can be transferred.

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