Residents of Butale-Kaduggala village in Mukungwe Sub County have staged a demonstration condemning the Diocese of West Buganda for allegedly grabbing land from community members.
The protest followed the death of a 90-year-old woman, who collapsed and died after losing a battle to reclaim 10-acres of land said to have been taken over the diocese. The deceased was identified as Maliseria Nakintu (90), a resident of Butale-Kaduggala village.
Nakintu shares half of the land with one Muhamood Sserwadda (84). The two had filed an appeal against a magistrate’s court judgment that granted ownership of the land to the diocese in a case that dragged on for 12-years.
It first came up when Nakintu and Sserwadda dragged the diocese to court for land grabbing and malicious damage in 2006 before Mary Ekiti, the then Chief Magistrate. The diocese had hired a group of men to raze all eucalyptus trees on the land in question.
Nakintu stated that she and some of her family members had lived on the land for over 80-years and have been paying ground rent to Buganda Kingdom. Serwadda said he bought five acres of the land on July 12, 1974 and has lived there since.
But the diocese accused the families of trespass counting on a leasehold title secured from Buganda Kingdom. The initial judgment, made in 2016 was in favour of the Church, prompting the two elders to appeal the decision.
On February 21, 2017, High court in Masaka summoned both parties again and Justice Dr Florence Zeija ordered them to provide evidence in their case. But the appellants’ lawyer Jacqueline Sseguya did not inform them on the actual day to present the required evidence.
As a result, High Court on Tuesday June 19, 2018 dismissed the appeal due to the failure by the appellant to produce proof of ownership. The decision is reported to have shocked the old woman who collapsed outside the court and was pronounced dead minutes after.
Her death has sparked off protests among Butale residents who attribute it to what they called an unfair court decision. The families have now pitched camp in the land in question and cautioned the diocese against any attempt to force them out.
James Kakembo, one of Nakintu’s children, says they never got justice due to lack of funds to hire good lawyers, yet the eviction leaves them homeless.
But Rev. Canon Enoch Muhanguzi, the diocese spokesperson, says the same law that ordered them to leave will be used to evict them from the land. Muhanguzi explains that they can’t use force but the law will still be applied to secure the land.