Katanga land row: Court dismisses Mak application  

An aerial view of Katanga, Wandegeya. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • According to court, the arguments advanced by the university are speculative and that KCCA has since rejected building plans by the bonafide occupants, citing a pending appeal case over the land.

Court has dismissed an application in which Makerere University had sought to stop activities and transactions on Katanga disputed land near Wandegeya.

The Land Division of the High Court before the Registrar, Mr Kintu Simon Zirintusa, dismissed the application for temporary injunction.

Through its lawyers, Makerere University filed the application against Pr Daniel Walugembe, Mr Abdu Ssekajja, who is the chairperson of Busia Zone in Wandegeya Parish and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).

Pr Walugembe and Mr Ssekajja are among the more than 50,000 bonafide occupants of Katanga.

The lawyers representing Makerere University had asked the court to issue restraining orders against the bonafide occupants.

The university had also sought to block any transfer of the bibanja interests on the land pending determination of the main case.

Last year, the same court dismissed an application in which the university had sought express orders against the Katanga land occupants.

According to court, the arguments advanced by the university are speculative and that KCCA has since rejected building plans by the bonafide occupants, citing a pending appeal case over the land.

The application by Makerere University and court decision arose from a fresh case filed on November 10 seeking declaration that there is no kibanja that exists on Katanga land. 

In the case, Makerere University is seeking an order that the bonafide occupants should not develop or enjoy the disputed land and that all the structures be demolished.

The fresh case comes amid a pending appeal in which Makerere is seeking to overturn a 2015 judgment in which the court ruled that the Katanga Valley land was occupied by four family members and their licensees, who are now bonafide occupants.

The four are Jonathan Yosamu Masembe, Bulasio Buyisi, George Kalimu, and Samalie Nambogga. 

They were battling with the university and the Commissioner for Land registration over cancellation of their land titles. 

The court has since also dismissed with costs an application in which Makerere had sought injunctive orders against Katanga residents from developing or alienating their bibanja/ bonafide tenancies.      

Last month, the same court stopped government security agencies from arresting Pr Walugembe in regard to the same dispute.

Local leaders have also protested the Makerere University move reasoning that more than 50,000 bibanja holders are at the verge of eviction without following due process of the law.

According to an August 11 letter, Makerere University acquired the land on Block 38 and that it was reserved for ‘future developments.

BACKGROUND   

It is alleged that on many occasions, Makerere resorted to unlawful means of evicting bibanja holders using the police and State House Unit in disregard of the court orders.

On September 15, the Internal Affairs Minister, Maj Gen (Rtd) Kahinda Otafiire, directed the Inspector General of Police to guide members of the Force to refrain from interfering with court orders.

“Where a party is aggrieved, he or she should not use the police force and the police force should not allow it be used to defy a court order. The only course of action such a party should take should be to move to court to set aside the judgment or order he/she is aggrieved with,” Gen Otafiire wrote.

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