Masaka, Uganda — Current occupants of the former properties of departed Asians in Masaka district are struggling to defend their possession before the Parliamentary Committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises-COSASE.
The committee is holding a special session in Masaka town where they are interviewing persons occupying the properties which include plots of land, residential and commercial buildings, to explain how they acquired them. Up to 73 people have been summoned by the committee chaired by Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi.
But many of the occupants failed to adduce records of transfers and repossession certificates from the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board-DAPCB, the statutory body that was given powers manage the properties. Some of the properties that are under question are plots; 5, 26, 22 located in Hobart street, plot 17 on Kampala road, plot 16 Grant street, plot 7 and 27 on Elgin street, and plot 18, 20, 22 in Mutuba-Musisi gardens among others.
Despite some of the occupants presenting purchase agreements and lease offers over the said properties, the committee has established that many of the occupants deliberately circumvented procedures or were cornered by the Masaka district land board to erroneously obtain lease offers over the property.
Kashari County MP Nathan Itungo indicated that their interactions with the remaining Asians some who owned the properties before their expulsion in 1972, revealed that there was a forgery of certificates of powers of attorney to irregularly get hold of the properties.
He says that the committee also received complaints from some children of departed Asians that some properties of their former parents were illegally taken over even when they still had running lease offers. Out the 27 certificates of ownership the committee has examined so far, only 4 were regularly acquired according to correspondences from the Ministry of Lands and the Departed Asians Property Custodian Board-DAPCB.
The committee has accordingly turned away several of the occupants of Asian properties and directed that they submit every document concerning their claim of ownership over the disputed properties before October 5th for further scrutiny.
Hajji Haruna Mutongole, who is occupying two plots formerly owned by the Asians along Elgin street in Masaka town told the committee that some of the said properties were obtained from commercial banks where they were mortgaged in the early 1990.s by those that had repossessed them, arguing that there is no way the titles could have been illegally obtained.