Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has asked the KCCA technical wing to halt the impending eviction of locals in Katanga by Makerere University from a disputed land.
Residents of Katanga are facing eviction intimated that it was going to develop the disputed 37 acres of land at Katanga Valley.
However, in a September, 2 letter to the KCCA Executive Director, Lukwago says that he had received complaints from lawyers acting on behalf of Pastor Daniel Walugembe and the area LC1 chairman in which they complain of an impending eviction which would affect over 50000 residents from the disputed land.
He says that there is a protracted legal battle dating as far as 1993 and that it is currently at the Court of Appeal.
According to Lukwago will be a breach of the 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 at the way KCCA management team gets embroiled in matters involving flouting of court orders. Makerere University can pursue their appeal and convince the justices to overturn the High Court judgment,”Lukwago says in the letter.
Lukwago said that matters concerning Katanga Valley land has been a subject of protracted legal battles stretching from 1993 to date.
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.
The Court has since dismissed with costs, an application in which Makerere University had sought injunctive orders against Katanga residents from developing or alienating their bibanja/bonafide tenancies.
According to Lukwago, the status quo should remain until the case is disposed of in court but also warned KCCA against allowing the eviction of the people from the contested land.
“As law abiding citizens, the residents of Katanga took all the necessary steps in line with the Justice Owiny Dollo orders which have never been vacated or overturned by a superior court and proceeded to write to Makerere University proposing an arrangement to pay Busuulu to Makerere University as their Landlord,” he says.
In the letter, Lukwago says that according to the law, customary tenants have equitable interests in any piece of land in their possession, adding that until the case at Court of Appeal is disposed of, the tenants can’t be evicted.
“Makerere University has no vacant land in Katanga Valley as alleged by the Vice Chancellor. It therefore follows that since it is all occupied by bonafide occupants or customary tenants, the only remedies available for the university is to either compensate them in order to vacate the land or to persuade them to acquire leasehold or freehold interests,” he said.
On August 11, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, the Makerere University Vice Chancellor wrote to various stakeholders on the disputed land inviting them to update them about the university’s planned developments.
In the letter, Nawangwe said that Makerere University acquired the land on Block 38 commonly referred to as Lower Katanga and that it was reserved for ‘future developments in line with our motto of building for the future.’
He revealed that the university is now ready to embark on developing the land and this consequently meant that occupants on the land would be evicted.