Body of 90-year-old in mortuary for eight months as family fights for burial rights

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Body of 90-year-old in mortuary for eight months as family fights for burial rights
Family members on the contested piece of land

NEWS | In a troubling saga unfolding in Bulambuli, a protracted land conflict has left the body of a man who died aged 90 languishing in a mortuary for close to eight months.

The late Mzee Francis Milimo passed away on September 17, 2023.

The deceased's family is embroiled in a dispute over a 400-acre tract of land in Businge Village in Bumufuni Sub-county.

The Nile Post understands the dispute involving Rose Wekomba, a prominent entrepreneur, has found its way to the steps of court of law.

The family of the deceased is particularly aggrieved by their inability to lay his body to rest on the disputed land due to an interim injunction that bars them from utilising the land until the main suit is disposed of.

The court order is subject to Civil Suit No. 045 of 2022 filed by a section of the deceased’s family member in pursuit of annulment of Wekomba’s land title. 30 out of the 485 affected people went to court in pursuit of the title annulment.

This protracted conflict, which traces its roots back to 2012, has taken a toll on the affected individuals and communities.

Peter Wekesa, a family member , insists their grandfather was the only remaining patriarch and that before he passed away, he gave them instructions of where to bury him.

“We don’t have an alternative, we just have to bury Mzee on his land where other graves are," Wekesa said.

Allegations have surfaced that the legal system has favoured Wekomba, leaving the family disillusioned.

"Many times when we talk about legalism, what is legal may not be what is right, some times if we are too legalistic we loose humanity," said one of the family members.

"The law is for man and not the reverse so we don't have to be too rigid."

Compounding the issue are delays within the legal process that is weighed down by case backlog.

This has led to a pervasive sentiment within the community of being failed by the justice system, raising concerns about equitable access to justice and the upholding of the rule of law.

“It is not our wish that it goes like that, we have tried, we have gone from court to all other offices until we reached his excellency the President,” they said.

The family attempted to entomb the deceased on the contested land but efforts were repulsed by law enforcement, who claimed to have acted in preservation of the sanctity of the court order.

Bulambuli Resident District Commissioner Stanley Bayole, who doubles as the head of security in the district, emphasised the importance of respecting court orders and suggests that the family may be exploiting the situation to evade legal processes.

Bayole urges the family to abide by court instructions.

"I advise the family to burry in an alternative land pending disposal of the main civil suite, if it goes in their favour they can transfer the remains to their person wherever they want," he said.

The RDC said he is not in receipt of the said presidential directive.

According to Wekesa, the family is seeking a cancelation certificate nullifying Wekomba's title from the Commissioner for title in the Ministry of Lands against which the principal judge would direct court to issue an order allowing the family to burry the deceased.

Edmund Nangulu, an advocate, say intervention in form of presidential directive and cancelation of the title would amount to interference with legal process.

Nangulu advised that the best alternative is to advocate for expeditious disposal of the civil suit by the presiding judge rather than pursuing shortcuts.

The stanoff depicts the challanges relating to limited understanding of judicial processes and the traditional belief.

It also points to the impact of delayed justice and case backlog caused by the gaps in the judicial system and how they impact social affairs.

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