A family of six homeless in Nakaseke district after their house was demolished in a move to forcefully evict them from land they have occupied for the past 48-years.
The affected family belongs to Stephen Mugambwa, a resident of Kimegeredde cell in Semuto town council, Nakaseke district. Mugambwa, a veteran in the 1981-1986 war is embroiled in a land wrangle with Sula Serunjogi, a former Resident District Commissioner and prominent National Resistance Movement Mobiliser.
Mugambwa, 66, settled on 6.74 acres in 1974 after inheriting the same from his father Colombani Mukasa. He has since established banana and coffee plantations and constructed permanent houses, among other developments.
However, in 2018, Mugambwa was approached by Sula Serunjogi with information that he had acquired a title for the land in question. Mugambwa explains that since then Serunjogi has been pressing him to surrender the land until they agreed on a sharing deal.
Mugambwa adds that he agreed to stay with 2.5 out of 6.74 acres but on condition that Serunjogi process and gives him a title for the remaining piece of land. Mugambwa said that he was shocked when Serunjogi under the protection of security personnel raided his home on December 14, 2021, and demolished it to force him to vacate the entire land.
Mugambwa adds that he reported the matter to Semuto Police Station but nothing was done and since then he is staying in part of the damaged house. Mugambwa said he was dragged to two magistrate courts on charges of criminal trespass but he was not given a fair hearing, only to get information that the case was decided in his absence.
Sula Serunjogi explained that he dragged Mugambwa to court for trespassing on the land and the case was decided ex-parte before he was ordered to pay the costs of the suit. Serunjogi added that he later sold the land and the new landlord demolished the house because he doesn’t need it there.
Hundreds of residents in over 40 villages in Nakaseke are also in a panic over looming eviction in a new phase of land grabbing cases. Among them are over 600 residents at Kabogwe village in Kapeeka Sub County who accuse a man identified only Kamuntu of hiring men to fence off their land after he allegedly acquired a land title on the land.
Samuel Mukasa Nyanzi, a resident of Kabogwe says that residents inherited the land from their parents who settled there in the 1970s and since then they thought they occupied public land. Nyanzi said that they were surprised when a man identified as Kamuntu under the protection of security surveyed it without notifying the tenants and started to fence it off.
Mukasa adds that several tenants have been arrested and ordered to accept meagre compensation to vacate their land. The affected residents say they have nowhere to go if evicted. Others are also facing hunger after their crops were destroyed.
Other land conflicts have been reported in Nambeeya, Kabeere, Kawoomya, Mayirikiti, Kizongoto, Kirema, Mizimbo and Kasambya villages among others. Luttamaguzi Ssemakula, the Nakaseke South Member of Parliament says that it’s unfortunate that security personnel and other state agencies which are supposed to protect the residents now connive with landlords to ensure they are evicted.
Luttamaguzi warns that if the government doesn’t stop the evictions, the affected tenants will have no choice but to fight back which may culminate into bloodshed.
Fred Bamwine, the Nakaseke Resident District Commissioner says some of the affected residents have not reported to him and he can’t go on a fishing expedition because he wants to help them. He however noted that those who have reported to him, have reconciled with the landlords and won’t be evicted.
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