Kabale High Court judge Moses Kazibwe Kawumi yesterday fined the Kabale town clerk and the municipal council Shs100m for contempt of court.
“I hold Mr Joseph Monday Bagonza and Kabale Municipal Council in contempt of the order issued on August 21, 2019, and both are jointly and severally liable to pay a fine of Shs100m to Kabale Central Market Traders Association. They are also jointly liable to pay the costs of this application,” Justice Kawumi ruled.
The association, led by Mr Simon Mashemererwa, had filed a case before the High Court in Kabale in December last year seeking an interim order to stop municipal authorities and its agents from registering vendors and traders until the main case challenging the exercise is disposed of. The court granted the order on July 12.
However, shortly after, the municipal council removed the roofs of the market and relocated the traders to new sites, prompting the latter to run to High Court demanding the arrest of Mr Bagonza for defying the order.
“Note is, however, taken of the impunity and high handed manner in which the town clerk and Kabale municipal council handled the concerns to do with the transition to the new market. As a civil servant and an accounting officer, the town clerk is under duty to protect all the market stakeholders interests and to guard against erosion of Kabale municipal council resources through court awards,” Justice Kazibwe said.
“Court orders are not issued in vain and a flagrant disobedience of a court order if allowed to go unchecked will result in onset of an erosion of judicial authority,” he added.
Mr Bagonza could not be reached for a comment as his known phone number was switched off.
The market was last year selected to be reconstructed at Shs24.6b.
Mr Sentaro Byamugisha, the Kabale mayor, said he would appeal the ruling. “We are happy that the court order stopping us from relocating vendors has been lifted and this gives us a chance to begin the re-construction of the market. I have also asked the municipal council lawyers to appeal against the ruling because a fine of Shs100m is too high, besides incurring application costs,” Mr Byamugisha said.