Saturday February 15 2014

Court orders 100 families off land


MBARARA- Tension is mounting in Rwampara, Mbarara District, following a court ruling to evict more than 100 families from a 50-hectare land.

The Mbarara Chief Magistrate’s Court on February 4 ruled that the affected families are squatters who unlawfully settled on the land in Bwenkoma, Nyakayojo Sub-county, without the owner’s consent.
Ms Mary Kebita, a businesswoman, said she acquired the land through the administrator general after the death of her brother Joseph Karabareme, the heir to their late father George Mpekire.

According to the residents’ account, Karabareme was appointed a custodian of his deceased father’s property by clan leaders but reportedly fragmented the land into plots and sold them off to different individuals before he died in early 1990s.

Ms Kebita was granted powers of administration of the estate and sued all the people who reportedly bought plots from her late brother, accusing them of trespass.

The court verdict to evict the tenants has caused tension in the area, with the majority of those affected vowing not to leave.

“We bought the plots genuinely and the majority have acquired receipts from the sub-county authorities to legalise their purchase agreements,” said Mr Robert Muganyizi, one of the affected people.
“The victims should not vacate the land and I promise to support them to challenge the court ruling,” said Mr Alex Kanyamunyu, the Bwenkoma Village chairperson.

“I will petition the President to intervene in the matter so as to block court from displacing such number of families that have lived on the land for decades,” Nyakayojo Sub-county chairperson Jomo Mugabe said.

Mr Samuel Dhabangi, a lawyer of the affected residents, said he has challenged the magistrate’s ruling in the High Court.

“The accused were not given the opportunity to defend themselves before the trial magistrate. I have since filed an application for a retrial in the High Court so that the case is heard on evidence from either side,” he said on Wednesday.