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Katanga land wrangle deepens as Makerere fights residents

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By Juliet Kigongo

The dispute over ownership of 37 acres of land at Katanga valley near Wandegeya in Kampala has taken a new twist as Makerere University pushes to develop the land amid a pending court case.

In 2015, the High Court in Kampala ruled that four family members and their licencees on the land at Katanga Valley are bona fide occupants and are by law entitled to continue occupying the 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.

Being dissatisfied, Makerere University appealed against the decision and the case is pending hearing and determination.

But on August 11, Makerere University Vice Chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, wrote to various stakeholders over the disputed land, inviting them for an update meeting on the university’s planned developments.

According to the letter, 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. ’

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“The university is now ready to embark on some development activities on her land in Lower Katanga. I have no doubt you will be interested in developments at the university,” reads the letter addressed to the Lower Katanga Village chairman, the chairperson of land guardians on Makerere land, and the LC3 councillor for Wandegeya Parish at the division.

The letter was copied to the Inspector General of Police, Deputy Resident City Commissioner for Kawempe, Kampala Lord Mayor and the occupants, among them Pastor Daniel Walugembe of Internal Gospel Church.

But in response, the leaders declined to attend the meeting, saying the actions of the university amounted to contempt of court orders, which have never been overturned.

“Our LC leadership wishes to inform you that our respective subjects have occupied the entire Katanga Valley area and the university is not in possession of any vacant space in the area. Their occupation is by virtue of being bona fide occupants of the suit land; and are by law entitled to continue in the possession as decreed by the High Court,” reads the response by the area leadership.

Occupants respond
The leadership of Wandegeya Ward in Kawempe Division asked the Vice Chancellor to retract his letter, citing misrepresentation of facts, among them that there is no ‘chairman for land guardians on Makerere land’, and that the matter is sub judice since it is still pending in court.

In an interview yesterday, Parish Council chairman for Wandegeya Ward, Mr Salim Wasswa, described the decision by Makerere University as an abuse but promised that the council will sit urgently to find a solution.

Court documents indicate that the disputed Katanga land comprises three zones situated on 37 acres, which have since been occupied by the complainants and their licencees. 

However, the university claims to own 277 acres contrary to the 10.315 hectares on the land title in their possession.

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