About 150 farmers from Kitswamba sub-county in Kasese district have written to the Attorney General, warning him of their intention to sue Government for grabbing their land.
The farmers from the villages of Rwentale and Kayanja have contracted the services of Sibendire, Tayebwa and Company Advocates to recover the 212 acres of land that was repossessed by Government. The land was used to resettle families of Basongora who were expelled from the Democratic Republic of Congo after several years of exile there.
The land in question reportedly belonged to the Rwentale and Kayanja Agricultural Association. A statutory notice presented by the association indicates that the Kasese Land Board gave it 158 acres on a 49-year lease five years ago. The same board gave a private investor, Adam Muhereza, the same lease officer under the same terms and conditions.
Although they legally acquired the lease officer in 2000, the farmers claim to have obtained the land under the customary tenure system in the early 1980s.
Eryeza Bitheyo, the chairperson of Rwentale and Kayanja Agricultural Association, says police evicted him and his neighbors on October 8th on the orders of Kasese Resident District Commissioner, James Mwesigye. He says the land now owned by the Basongora, is under consistent surveillance by police and army officers.
The evicted families are living in a camp adjacent to the land with no food, shelter and health facilities.
In their letter to the Attorney General, the farmers accuse Government of disregarding legal provisions in respect to the compulsory acquisition of land for public use. They say government forcefully evicted them and resettled the Basongora families without compensating the evictees and want government to either return the land or pay them for their eviction.