Uganda: Leaders Appeal Over Katanga Land Dispute

2 August 2022
Nile Post News (Kampala)

Local leaders from villages that comprise Katanga land have asked authorities to intervene in the operations of Makerere University administration that seek to evict more than 50,000 bibanja holders in contravention of the court orders.

The leaders said that the actions of evicting and demolishing property belonging to the bonafide occupants of land at Katanga amount to impunity and in violation of the presidential directive that barred eviction of bibanja holders.

Thomas Bagonza, the councilor representing Wandegeya Parish at Kawempe Division said that the series of night attacks, demolitions and ongoing arrest of their people are a total abuse of court orders and violation of bibanja holders' rights on Katanga land.

"We were surprised at Makerere University instructing security personnel and its officials to come at midnight and without any court order. This is in total abuse of bibanja peoples' rights and a violation of the court orders," Bagonza said.

The said court orders were granted to restrain and prohibit security, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and any government officials from evicting and or demolishing any structures.

Flanked by other leaders, Bagonza told the media that more than 15 of their residents were arrested, detained but no charges have been preferred against them in addition to demolition of structures.

"As leaders, we believe that the Vice Chancellor of Makerere is working on instructions of an invisible high profile person that we are yet to expose if this does not stop with immediate effect," he added.

It is alleged that on the night of July 7 this year, a group of people commanded by Makerere University's Security officer Ivan Tenywa demolished structures on Katanga land that belong to Pastor Daniel Walugembe in violation of the court order issued on March 7 this year.

In March this year, the High Court issued a temporary order stopping any government employees from evicting more than 50,000 occupants, among them Walugembe on Katanga land near Wandegeya until the final disposal of the main case.

The court also halted any criminal investigations against Walugembe in respect to the dispute over Katanga land and also stopped the government agencies from interfering with any developments on the land in dispute.

Abdu Ssekajja, the chairperson of Busia Zone said that the actions against the people on Katanga land amount to abuse of their human rights and to deprive them of their ownership of land.

He asked Makerere University administration to use legal means through courts of law rather than using force.

The leaders' statements come two weeks after Pastor Walugembe petitioned the High Court against the alleged demolition of structures on the disputed Katanga land in violation of a High Court order.

He sued Makerere University, the Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe with the University's Acting Secretary Yusuf Kiranda and Security Officer Ivan Tenywa.

He accused them of continued impunity to intensify their illegal and contemptuous plan to evict 50,000 bibanja holders among them Pastor Walugembe from the suit.

"The demolition altered the status quo in favour of the respondents (accused parties) and if the status quo is not restored, the applicant shall be put at a disadvantage of proving possession and occupation of suit land in the pending cases," reads the complaint before court.

Pastor Walugembe is now seeking for an order to restore the status quo on the land in dispute and that the accused parties pay Shs300 million as cost of restoring the structures.

In 2015, the High Court ruled that the Katanga Valley land was occupied by four family members and their licensees who are now bonafide occupants whose rights are well protected under the laws governing ownership of land.

The four family members are Jonathan Yosamu Masembe, Blasio Buyisi, George Kalimu and Samalie Nambogga. They are battling with Makerere University and the Commissioner Land Registration over cancellation of their land titles and ownership of the land by Makerere.

In April this year, the court stopped Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) from demolishing structures on Katanga land until determination of pending disputes.

The order was issued against KCCA and its deputy executive director, Eng David Luyimbazi.

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