Residents on the disputed land in Katanga near Wandegeya have appealed to authorities to protect them from threats of eviction by Makerere University.
The leaders of Busia and Kimwanyi Local Council areas in Wandegeya Parish, Kawempe Division say that they are legally occupying their bibanja after the High Court declared them bonafide occupants on the disputed land.
In 2015, the High Court ruled that the Katanga valley land was occupied by four family members and their licensees who are now bonafide occupants whose rights are well protected under the laws governing ownership of land.
The four family members are Jonathan Yosamu Masembe, Bulasio Buyisi, George Kalimu and Samalie Nambogga.
They were battling with Makerere University and the Commissioner for Land registration over cancellation of their Land titles and ownership of the land by Makerere University.
However, Makerere University has since appealed against the decision, faulting the High Court in a matter pending hearing and determination before the Appeal Court.
It is alleged that Makerere University has on several occasions appealed to various offices appealing for help to destroy buildings and evict more than 50,000 residents including bibanja holders without following the due process of the law.
The leaders led by the chairman of Busia Zone, Abdu Ssekajja, asked the authorities to restrain Makerere University authorities to desist from misleading the public about their stay on Katanga land.
“We have read reports and statements calling us land grabbers but I want to put the record clear that we are bibanja holders and the court ruled that we are legally in occupation,” Ssekajja said.
He appealed to Makerere University to prosecute their appeal rather than resorting to illegal means of evicting them.
According to Ssekajja, the then High Court Judge Alphonse Owiny-Dollo visited the land and interacted with all parties before making his decision which remains in force until a higher court rules otherwise.
He told journalists that all Makerere University has to do is to follow the legal procedure in order to resolve the dispute.
The remarks follow an outcry in the media where Makerere University authorities appealed to the government to come to their rescue and save their 10 acre land in Katanga.
The fresh appeals come amid a pending appeal in which Makerere University 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 whose rights are well protected under the laws governing ownership of land.
In October last year, the High Court stopped government security agencies from arresting Katanga land occupants among them Pastor Daniel Walugembe in regard to the same dispute.
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has since asked the Kampala Capital City Authority) technical wing to halt the impending evictions in Katanga near Wandegeya to stave off what he described as undesired consequences.
In a September ,2, 2021 letter to the KCCA Executive Director, Lukwago warned that it will be a glaring breach of law for the physical planning directorate and the building control board to issue demolition orders and approve plans submitted by Makerere University before the Court of Appeal pronounces itself on the matter.
“I am utterly shocked at the way KCCA management team gets embroiled in matters involving flouting of court orders,” wrote Lukwago adding; “Makerere University can pursue their appeal and convince the justices to overturn the High Court judgment.”
Lukwago said that matters concerning Katanga Valley land have been a subject of protracted legal battles stretching from 1993 to date.
On September 15, 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 not only in Katanga land matters but also in matters of similar nature.
“Where a party is aggrieved, he or she should not use the Police force and the police force should not allow it to 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.