Close to one hundred residents of Busukuma Sub_County, Wakiso district are before the commission in petition against one Ruta Ngambwa the proprietor of Prime Estate Investments for having evicted them forcefully from over 245 acres of land.
The first witness to take to the stand 38year old Gatrude Nakimbugwe a member of the family that previously owned the land says Ruta who was at the commission too bought only 30 acres of their land yet ended up taking all the 245 acres and displacing over 80 squatters.
The 38-year old broke down into tears as she narrated the ordeal that befell her family who in seeking betterment of their lives decided to sell part of their land but instead ended up in a worse situation.
Shortly had she narrated how after the loss of her father in 1990, her family of six siblings and their mother decided to sell 30acres of their land.
The sale instead turned sour leaving them evicted, her mother down with stroke and her oldest brother suffering from mental illness under mysterious circumstances and her and another sister were the most stable (sound mind) people to come plead their case.
She broke down forcing the commission into a brief break to allow her cool off.
According to Nakimbugwe, when they decided to sell their land, two brokers from the village who had dealt in the land offered to help them
These brought them a dealer Ruta Ngambwa who was willing to buy from them 30acres
First the children and their mother went into negotiations without the help of either a lawyer or the area local council leaders.
Such negotiation birthed many other loops whose effects the family is still dealing with.
Though Ruta was supposed to buy the 30acres at 345million shillings with each rated at 11m, he has since paid only 80M shillings.
In their agreement the family allowed Ruta to make a down payment of ten million not even the value of one acre and transfer papers were made.
According to the 2011 agreement that Nakimbugwe acknowledges to have signed, the rest was meant to be paid in installments. Ruta the buyer was also meant to help the family process letters of administration on the land as the estate of their father Joseph Katerega, process and acquire land titles and protect land for their burial grounds, home and palace.
The first installment of 20M was to be paid after Ruta had put roads and brought in electricity, the next 100M after processing of letters of administration on the remaining acres of land, and 215M after surveying, processing and acquiring certificates of land titles.
All the money was never paid out.
But also within the probe was produced another land title bearing more information that advantaged Ruta over the family giving him 30percent of every piece of land for which he processed a land title. This Nakimbugwe says she never signed though she agreed it bears her name and signature plus her brother’s and mother’s thumbprint.
Justice Bamugemereire noted it would be subjected to verification since the witness insisted they never signed any document in 2012.
On the payments, Nakimbugwe said they only were able to receive 80M shillings in installments and the rest wasn’t paid out.
“He would give us money according to ones problem especially school fees. On explaining the need, he would give any amount it could be 1M, 300,000= and we’d sign and get receipt”
The installments however also stopped after a span of about five years and he started telling them he had no money.
This is when they begun to think they could have been duped.
The situation then got worse with Ruta taking over the land forcing her family to flee for safety after all the land was taken away yet hers was mainly a peasant family.
“He later took all the land beyond the 30acres extending to the land occupied by squatters destroying their property and houses”
These now carry not their burden alone, but are looked at by the squatters (who are over 80 according to her though only 35 made it to the commission) as the sole cause of all their misery since most are only left with houses on very small portions of land and can’t use for much. She insists the squatters land was never meant to be affected.
In the commission right now are documents with numerous titles in which ownership transferred from Nakimbugwe to Ruta
Als are letters of administration in her names awarded by Justice Eldad Mwangushya yet she says her family has never been to any court nor signed no other document besides the 2011 sale agreement
Another court document indicates a consent agreement signed by her and her family agreeing to pay Ruta over 170M shillings
Also documents indicate she instructed a law firm Kagwa Oweyesigire & Co Advocates to receive money on her behalf of any of the family members.
All documentation she denies knowledge and participation.
She also revealed that the very person that led her to Ruta showed her another office to which she went for confirmation that the land was under her family’s control.
Her answers mainly teary every time the questions of her family status now came up, Nakimbungwe says they want the commission to help them ensure that the balance of …. is fully paid and that the remaining 215acres of land that were dubiously grabbed are given back.
One of the commissioners GeorgeT Bagonza asked “you sold the land with intent o improve the family welfare did you achieve this?”
Nakimbugwe “The situation just worsened my Lord”
On inquiry if any of her family members would be able to come to court to answer to some of the questions she said her mother can walk and talk but is very frail. In tears, she further revealed her oldest brother suffers mental illness and is very bitter hence he cannot engage in proper conversation.
As the commission listens to more witnesses its undeniable that many vulnerable people are duped by crafty real estate proprietors who take the land straight out of their hands without any difficulty mainly manipulating ignorance and vulnerability.
For instance: in the case above
· The family got involved with a buyer they didn’t know based on their knowledge of mere middle men
· They went into transactions without involvement of any one knowledgeable on land transactions such as an LC leader or lawyer who be better witness.
· Nakimbugwe a senior four drop out though can read, says she signed the sell agreement without reading it.
· The buyer manipulated this to his benefit and didn’t have anyone explains the details of agreement to the family yet it’s indicated in the agreement that the documents was read out and translated to the family before they accented to it
· The family trusted a stranger to process their letters of administration and land titles over their fathers and lost in the process
· During the sale of 30 out the 245 acres, the family didn’t necessarily proper demarcation of which exact acres they were selling out.
Not this family alone but many others out their stand risk of losing their all to such crafty dealers and the lead counsel at the probe Bosco Suza suggests “I think the probe needs to move state to develop policy to protect indigent people who get into transactions like these.”