Amolatar land dispute: Houses burnt, property worth millions looted 

Senior police officers from North Kyoga region at one of the homes burnt during the protest in Namasale Town Council on July 17, 2023. PHOTO/JULIUS OCEN

What you need to know:

  • According to SP Okema, the claimant, Ms. Katushabe, had attempted to initiate a dialogue with the affected people on July 17, 2023, through a letter from her legal team based in Kampala. 

Several houses have been set ablaze, and property worth millions of shillings has been destroyed or looted in a land dispute in Amolatar District.

According to the police, the dispute over a large parcel of land measuring about 100 hectares in Bungu Cell, Namasale Town Council, is allegedly being fueled by local leaders and involves a non-native woman and some natives.

On July 17, locals armed with batons burnt several houses and looted property worth millions of shillings upon learning that a lady named Ms. Juliet Katushabe was claiming ownership of the land.

Ms. Katushabe is said to be an administrator of an estate believed to have belonged to the late Kawaki Nafutali, a former resident of Bungu Cell.

The disputed land was allegedly occupied by Mr. Moses Okello and other residents of Bungu Cell.

One of the victims of Monday's illegal demonstration, an 80-year-old Nekolina Acola, narrated her ordeal, stating, "The attackers, armed with sticks, came here and burnt my grass-thatched hut, destroying three bags of sesame (simsim) and groundnuts. They killed all my 12 goats and threw them into the fire one after the other. Other protesters were using goats’ legs to beat people."

Ms. Acola appealed to the police to bring all those who raided her home to justice. She expressed distress over her destroyed properties and her son's academic documents, which were also lost in the incident.

Another victim, Mr. David Senyonga, reported losing Shs11, 900 during the illegal protest. 

"They came and started destroying things belonging to those dealing in fish at Namasale Landing Site, and when they reached mine, they destroyed my two refrigerators and television screen," he said.

Ms. Judith Amiro, a 27-year-old businesswoman, explained how unknown people forcefully entered her house during the protest. They stole about Shs 800,000 and looted clothes she was selling worth Shs 200,000. 

Protesters armed with batons take part in a protest in Namasale Town Council, Amolatar District, on July 17, 2023. PHOTO/BILL OKETCH

"They forced themselves into my house while I was with my child and started beating me seriously, alleging that I refused to join them in the demonstration. In the process, they picked all the clothes I was selling, including some money," Ms. Amiro said.

Mr. Geoffrey Ayena, Namasale Town Council LC3 chairperson, pointed out that the claim made by a "stranger" over ownership of the land sparked the protest.

The North Kyoga region police spokesperson, SP Patrick Jimmy Okema, told Monitor that the disputed land had remained vacant since the tribal fight between Bantu and Luo-speaking tribes in 1979.

According to SP Okema, the claimant, Ms. Katushabe, had attempted to initiate a dialogue with the affected people on July 17, 2023, through a letter from her legal team based in Kampala. 

However, this attempt was met with resistance from the locals, leading to an illegal protest.

The District Police Commander of Amolatar and his team responded promptly, calming down the locals and engaging with local leaders.

They advised the claimant and her lawyer not to come to the ground and instead seek legal redress through the courts of law.

When senior police personnel from North Kyoga, including Mr. Okema and Mr. Deo Obura, the Regional Police Commander, visited Namasale Town Council on July 18, they expressed displeasure at the act of lawlessness by members of the community, resulting in the destruction of properties.

People who lost properties in the July 17 protest sit at Namasale Police Station to lodge formal complaints on Tuesday, July 18, 2023. PHOTO/JULIUS OCEN

The police spokesperson condemned the barbaric action taken by the Namasale community and assured the affected people that their complaints had been formally registered.

He emphasised that the police, along with other security agencies, would thoroughly investigate the matter.