A group of 38 families in Lwabenge sub-county in Masaka have been evicted from land on which they have lived for the past two decades by a Kampala-based businesswoman and the former commander of Masaka Armored Brigade.
The eviction of the residents of Katikamu, Kasambya, Kanfuka and Buwanda from 400 hectares of land started on Wednesday morning. The LC1 chairperson of Kasambya, Ponsiano Ssonko, says the businesswoman, Elizabeth Kagamba, accompanied by about 20 armed men claiming to be from the Masaka Armored Brigade Barracks invaded the property. They fenced off part of the land and evicted more than 300 people.
Residents claim that the Defense Secretary of Kasambya, Bumbakali Nyanzi, and a local resident, Chrisestom Mukiibi were beaten badly by soldiers when they tried to intervene to stop the evictions. They were admitted to Lwabenge Health Center IV, but were allegedly denied a medical letter to file a police case proving they had been assaulted.
The LC1 chairperson says the evictees have no where to go and have been offered temporary accommodation by friends in Kasambya. He says a few soldiers have remained on the land to secure it.
Many of the residents who spoke to Uganda Radio Network have vowed to return to their homes, but say they are still afraid to go back because of the soldiers. They said most of their belongings are still in their houses.
David Ssegawa, a local councilor from Lwabenge, says Elizabeth Kagamba informed the residents that she and Colonel James Mugira, the former Masaka Armored Brigade Commander, bought the land lawfully. Ssegawa says Kagamba and Mugira want to develop a modern dairy farm on the land.
The Southern Uganda Regional Police Commander Andrew Sorowen says the matter is being handled by the Resident District Commissioner.