By Solomon Lubambula
KAMPALA: The land division of Kampala High court was recently astonished to learn that an individual called Moses Kalangwa acquired 300acres of land after illegally evicting communities from four villages in Mubende district.
The relevation came to light during the court mention of a case in which Charles Lwanga Masengere is accusing Moses Kalangwa the proprietor of Misanga Supply Farm limited of conniving with Mubende district land board to forge a land title which he used to evict communities without compensation.
Presiding judge, Justice Wilson Kwesiga wondered how an individual can selfishly displace masses without remorse.
“I don’t want you to be legalistic because there is need to consider human occupancy in this whole issue. Because for an individual to own more than 3000 acres, is not equitable when others are left to suffer on the street”Justice Kwesiga stressed.
Six years ago hundreds were evicted by Moses Kalangwa in Mubende district and since then the parties have been involved in legal battles.
Based on the long time the case has been dragged, Justice Kwesiga advised both lawyers for the plaintiff and defendant to think about taking to their clients to opt for an out of court settlement.
However Kwesiga set the 17th of November this year as a hearing date for the case. He said the parties could use this time before the case hearing and try to resolve the matter amicably.
He asked Counsel Denis Kwizera representing the plaintiff and counsel Simon Peter Sekidde for the defendants to utilize the time given to consider a peaceful mediation that would save a lot time, resources for the parties involved and even cut on case backlog in court.
From the humanitarian perspective, the judges’ piece of advice to the warring parties is very valid but one wonders what kind of precedent that would set, especially in a case where one of parties is alleged to have fraudulently acquired the land titles to grab the property in question.
In response to the judges’ advice to the lawyers of the two warring parties for a peaceful settlement, the plaintiff, Mr. Masengere who claims ownership of the 3000 acres, says there would be no problem negotiating with the vulnerable squatters on the land but it would be unfair to negotiate with a handful of individuals who evicted the land owners together with the squatters. He says he cannot dialogue in a situation where there is glaring evidence that the one Kalangwa of the Misanga Supply Farm Limited fraudulently grabbed his property.
Masengere says the defendants who are Misanga Supply Farm Limited and others simply rented a piece of land for a period of 1 and 6 months from his uncle (Antonio Kasozi) with no right because he was simply a farm manager. Later on John Munvuneza connived with some people, who sold the land to Misanga Supply Farm Uganda limited.
Before anyone knew it they also produced land titles to the remaining piece of land and thereby displacing the squatters and the original land lord of the entire 3000 acres, Masengere adds.
However before court, the defendants denied the allegations of fraud and ever evicting Masengere and his family.
So for Masengere negotiating with his tormentors who destroyed his properties worth over 500 million shillings, other peoples’ households and causing his imprisonment can only be described as rewarding wrong doers, on top of grabbing his land.
For that matter whereas mediation would be one of the best option, in cases where wealthy and well-connected individuals that can deployed military officers to terrorize an entire village and order the poor vulnerable residents to vacate without consideration of their land rights stipulated in the laws, it may cause more harm than good in the long run.
This is because some well placed people in society may deliberately flout the land laws well knowing that at the end of the day they have an option of negotiating with the weaker side that will be easily compromised.