Tears as Kapeeka residents testify before land probe

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Residents from Kapeeka Sub-county in Nakaseke District yesterday accused a businessman and a Local Council (LC) chairman of evicting them from land they have occupied for years.

The angry residents from six villages accused the businessman, Haji Swaib Yiga of conniving with LC chairman Matia Tibesigwa to destroy acres of their plantations before grabbing land.
“We are living under threat because this man (Yiga) warned that he would imprison whoever resists his actions because he is working for high profile people, including Gen Salim Saleh and some people from State House,” said Mr Joseph Kiwuka, a resident of Senda Village and one of the affected people.

He added; “It was September last year that a group of about 25 people armed with machetes, axes and pangas led by our chairman (Mr Tibesigwa) and Mr Yiga started destroying our crops without prior information and knowledge and our plots were forcefully subdivided and sold to unknown people who have since started constructing structures on them.”

Mr Kiwuka added; “Upon destruction of our crops, Yiga came to our home and when I complained of my destroyed crops, he gave me Shs450,000 and Shs300,000 to my brother David Kizito as compensation which we rejected and he (Yiga) immediately called my brother and forced him to take the money saying he was coming to take the entire land. Now after taking the money, my brother went and took poison.”

He says even after the Lands minister Ms Betty Amongi stopped Mr Yiga’s activities, the purported buyers have since defied the orders.

Mr Kiwuka who walked barefooted was one of the 16 people who testified before the Commission of Inquiry into land matters chaired by Court of Appeal Judge Catherine Bamugemereire, said he lost two acres of cassava, a half-acre of sweet potatoes, coffee and a banana plantation, all on a 5.5 acres.

Justice Bamugemereire said this is an investigation and “we are here to listen to all the complaints and we shall verify the information to make recommendation to government to take action against the culprits.”

Crying for help
The residents want government to intervene and help them repossess their land saying it is their only source of livelihood and are willing to pay of the purported landlord given a chance.

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