Kayunga residents seek govt help to stop land wrangles

 Mr Mustapher Kiggwe points at a hut that he claims was illegally built on his land by alleged land grabbers in Misaanga Village, Kayunga District, on November 18. PHOTO/FRED MUZAALE  

What you need to know:

  • Mr Moses Ddumba, the Kayunga resident district commissioner (RDC), said his office receives at least one land-related case every day.
  • The RDC said sugarcane growing by sugar manufacturing companies in the area has escalated the problem.

Residents of Kayunga have urged the government to save them from the rampant land wrangles in the district. 
Speaking to Monitor  at the weekend, Mr Mustapha Kiggwe, a resident of Misaanga Village in Bbaale County,   said an intruder allegedly grabbed his 450-acre-piece of land. 

He said he sued the individual and Mukono High Court in 2020 ruled in his favour and asked the accused to vacate the land.

However, Mr Kiggwe said the accused person defied the court order and has refused to vacate the land to-date.
As a result, Mr Kiggwe said he has been displaced from his land, and yet he wanted to farm and use part of the land for other income-generating projects.

Mr David Kyagaba, the vice chairman of Kayunga Central Zone,  said residents live in fear and can hardly venture into long-term projects.

“The President should intervene and ensure the wrangles are resolved once and for all,”  Mr Kyagaba said.

Ms Rosette Sikahwa, the Kayunga District Police Commander (DPC), said they register at least two cases of land wrangles or illegal evictions every day.

“When it comes to land, Kayunga District is a unique area. Besides land wrangles, 90 percent of all cases registered with police in the district such as murder, threatening violence, assault, etc are related to land wrangles,” the DPC said.

Ms Sikahwa said some landlords have been killed in the area by either their tenants or unknown assailants including two who were burnt alive and their vehicles set ablaze.

Mr Charles Tebandeke, the Bbaale County MP, where illegal land evictions are rampant, blaming the problem partly on people who buy land without even visiting the area to ascertain whether it has tenants on it.

He said: “As a leader, I have embarked on a programme to ensure that all occupants on land get freehold titles as a way of strengthening their tenancy. Some tenants have already received the titles while the process is ongoing for others.” 

The lawmaker also cited corruption in the land registration system and Mukono land offices . 

In August, the State minister for Lands, Mr Sam Mayanja, closed the Mukono land office, which also serves Kayunga, to pave the way for investigations by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit over allegations of issuance of fake land titles and double titling of land.

The office has since been reopened.

But Mr Darius Kaggwa, the secretary of Kayunga District land board, said there is  fraud “at all levels”, especially at the sub-counties whereby the area land committees don’t convene public hearings in case there is a landlord who intends to survey his or her land in order to acquire a title for it.

“When a person aspires to process a title for their land, especially if it is public land, the area land committees have to convene public hearings whereby all residents, among them elders in that particular area, have to attend and if there are any observations made against that person’s aspirations to get a land title, then his file will not be forwarded to the district land board, “ Mr Kaggwa said.

He said even though the district land board had tried to block files of people who wanted to title their land even when the area land committees didn’t conduct a public hearing, in some cases, the committees forge signatures and deliberations of a purported public hearing and forwarded them to the district land board, which also unknowingly processes it and sends it to Mukono area land office and such a person gets a title for his land.

However, to address the problem, Mr Kaggwa said the board has embarked on sensitising land committees and monitoring them to ensure they follow the guidelines.

Mr Moses Ddumba, the Kayunga resident district commissioner (RDC), said his office receives at least one land-related case every day.

The RDC said sugarcane growing by sugar manufacturing companies in the area has escalated the problem.
“Sugar cane growing business has led to a rise in the value of land and now many landlords are selling off their land to bag billions of money,” the RDC said.

He, however, said they are trying to contain the situation through sensitisation and community policing.
An officer at Kayunga Central Police Station land department, who preferred anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, yesterday said a total of 185 land wrangle cases were registered by police in the district last year.  

The officer,  however,  said the number could be higher since many people do not report such cases.