Kassanda, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 30,000 people from five villages in Kiganda Sub County, Kassanda District are living in fear over a looming eviction.
The residents on plots 76, 75, 84, and 86; Block 440 in the villages Kitaama, Kiryanongo, Nakasagazi, Kabubbu, and Lugoba claim that they bought bibanja interests from the late Stephen Ssemwanga Katama who had a lease on the land in the late 90s.
At a meeting held at Kitaama playground, the residents said that the children of the late Katama led by Kato Fred Kivumbi have come with a freehold title issued in 2017 in the names of the Stephen Ssemwanga Katama who died in 2011 and they are using it as a basis to vacate them.
Lawrence Kizza Ntabaazi, the chairperson of Kitaama Local Council said that they are living in fear after the death of Katama who died after selling them bibanja interests.
“We appeal to the government to come and rescue us because we do not know where to go as this is the source of our livelihood for many years because I bought my Kibanja in 1989 and subsequently the deceased asked us to buy interests in land in 1996 and after paying the money, we realized he was a leaseholder on land and to our surprise, his children are turning against us,” Ntabaazi narrated.
According to Ntabaazi, they have tried to seek help in various offices in vain and are now appealing to the President and Lands Minister to come to their rescue.
Grace Kanyana, said that she purchased a plot from the late Katama in 2000 and constructed a house, and cultivated crops. She says that they were asked to vacate their areas without following the due process of the law.
According to the residents of Kitaama, the deceased had sold the land interests to them but he died before the completion of the transfer process and the requisite documentation. If evicted, the claimants say they will lose property among them permanent houses, farms, and graveyards.
Yusuf Ssengendo, a resident of Lugoba said that his late grandfather settled on the land claimed by the Katama family in 1926 and that his father grew up on the same land.
“We have been embroiled in protracted land disputes for ages and in 2000, we invited the late Katama because another purported landlord identified as Sempangi was claiming for the same, and the same Katama said he had no interest in our land. I am now surprised that his children are claiming for our land,” he lamented.
James Kawani said that he purchased land from the late Katama in 1971 but he did not have a problem with him until the deceased’s children started demanding money.
Former Member of Parliament for Kassanda South, Simeo Nsubuga asked the residents to form leadership committees among themselves to be able to follow the legal process with a common voice.
“Choose trusted people to be leaders among yourselves and nobody should abruptly because that is hypocrisy we must avoid in order to win,” said Nsubuga.
Kassanda LCV Chairperson, Fred Kasirye Zzimula said that they will investigate the claims by the residents to establish whether it is a forged land title or weakness in the land offices.
He said that due process of the law shall be followed to help both parties have an amicable settlement.