Kampala- After a man accused Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma of land grabbing last week, two widows in Kiboga District have also accused him of frustrating their case, leading to what they have called “wrongful eviction.”
Describing themselves as administrators of their late husband, the widows, Ms Milly Katongole and Ms Hope Katongole told Sunday Monitor on Thursday that a disputed order by the deputy Chief Justice, issued to a businesswoman in their absence, resulted in their eviction.
Sunday Monitor understands that on April 7, 2016, Justice Kavuma, sitting as a single judge of the Court of Appeal, issued an interim order in favour of a businesswoman, Ms Agatha Kalanzi, overturning the earlier order by a High Court judge in Mubende which had directed a temporary sub-division of a disputed five- square mile land in Kiboga District pending termination of their case in Mubende High Court .
The businesswoman and the widows were embroiled in a dispute over ownership of the five square miles land which prompted Mubende High Court judge Elizabeth Nahamya to order that each party temporarily occupy 2.5 square miles until the final determination of the case.
“A registered surveyor shall be engaged by court to properly spell out the boundaries of each party. This will be done under supervision of the acting assistant registrar of court,” reads the court ruling.
However, before the implementation of the High Court order, Ms Kalanzi who wanted to allegedly grab the widows land filed a notice of appeal in Kampala and later, through unclear circumstances obtained an interim order before Justice Kavuma, restraining the widows and their children from conducting any activity on the disputed land.
In the same order, Justice Kavuma had directed that the status quo be maintained until hearing of the main application for temporary stay of the Mubende High Court order. According to the widows, Justice Kavuma’s directive was “confusing” in a sense that he barred them from operating on their land and at the same time maintained the status quo.
Under the legal procedure, the widow who addressed journalists on Wednesday, said after the expiry of the 60 days of the interim order, Justice Kavuma should have allocated their case to a panel of three judges to hear the main application which was never done.
Instead, he [Kavuma] authorised the businesswoman to evict them from their late husband’s land. The widows have since demanded a judicial review and petitioned Chief Justice Bart Katureebe to intervene and prevail over Justice Kavuma.
Mr Solomon Muyita, the senior communications officer at the Judiciary, described the eviction as an abuse of the court process, saying: “You cannot use an interim which is supposed to maintain the status quo, to evict people.
And normally when the order expires, it ceases to be in force.” He advised the aggrieved party to file a reference (for the case to be heard by three judges) and follow up with the registrar of the court to have it fixed.
Land row deepens
In a separate case, London-based businessman, Phillip Mayengo is embroiled in a dispute with Justice Kavuma over ownership of land in Luwafu Kizungu Zone, Makindye Division. The disputed piece of land is adjacent to the one claimed by another man [Mr John Sentongo] who has since sued Justice Kavuma over alleged land grabbing.
Through his legal representative, Mr Mayengo, who acquired the said land measuring 189ft by 229 ft, contends that without showing any proof of ownership or purchase agreement, Justice Kavuma fenced off his plot with impunity.
In a letter dated October 7 to Buganda Land Board, Mr Mayengo through his lawyers accused Justice Kavuma of unlawful interference and trespass on his land and deploying soldiers to guard it since 2010.
“Since then, our client (Mayengo) has laboured through various means to recover his land from Justice Kavuma, including involving members of the local council and the community,” the lawyers wrote.