SANGO BAY BIG LANDLORD IN TEARS AS MINISTER MAYANJA ORDERS TITLE CANCELATION
By Isaac Wandubile
The Minister of Lands Dr. Sam Mayanja has ordered the arrest of Kyotera-based businessman Faustino Murengyezi for allegedly grabbing public land and displacing residents of Bukaala village Ndolo Parish Kabira Sub County in Kyotera district.
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Murengyezi is accused of fencing off more than four square miles of land from which he blocked community access to grazing fields, plantations and water sources. Murengyezi is claiming ownership of seven square miles of land in the same area and before Mayanja was petitioned and stepped forward to stand in his way, he had initially threatened to evict more than 1,000 residents.
Bukaala residents say that Murengyezi would deploy gun-wielding men to guard the fenced chunk of land and whoever tried to access their grazing fields, plantations and waters sources would be flogged, arrested, imprisoned and slapped with trespass charges using his allies in the security and court system.
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The land in dispute is part of the 14,000 hectares that were formerly leased to Sango Bay Sugar Estate Limited and later reverted to the Central government following the expulsion of the Asians in 1972. Apart from Murengyezi’s, there are more than 10 other grand land titles on the Sango Bay land in Bukaala which were cancelled.
State Minister for Lands Sam Mayanja says that the businessman had no right to block residents from using or accessing the public land. During a Tuesday locus visit, Dr. Mayanja excited the area residents when he announced that the fence and barricades that Murengyezi had illegally erected should be removed immediately to allow people access to their plantations and grazing fields so that they resume economic activities.
Dr. Mayanja also announced the cancellation of all the titles relating to the disputed land saying they were null and void and no longer recognized in the GoU land system. The indefatigable Minister, who started his day by addressing area residents on their Bibanja-holding rights while imploring them to resist land grabbing, also directed that all the residents who were slapped with trespass charges and incarcerated should unconditionally be released since they had been wrongly inappropriately in the first place.
Joined by Kyotera leaders like LC5 Chairman Patrick Kintu Kisekulo, RDC Hajji Moses Ddumba and area MP John Paul Mpalanyi, Dr. Mayanja on Tuesday visited the disputed land where he appealed to the district security team to effect all his directives and arrest all perpetrators before the residents take the law into their hands. From Bukaala, Dr. Mayanja appealed to all the occupants of the disputed land t register for a resettlement package at Kakuuto Sub County headquarters since the government plans to use it for the oil palm project.
According to Patrick Kintu Kisekulo, the disputes over the Sango Bay started before Kyotera became a district. He says police would illegally arrest residents of Bukaala and force them to bribes of as much as Shs15m ostensibly to atone their alleged tress pass on Murengyezi’s land.
Kisekulo, who commended Mayanja to taking off time to drive to the remote village of Bukaala, further explained that they cannot blame the police for executing its duty of keeping law and order and appealed to the government to always engage courts whenever such a major project is underway. Isaac Bigirwa, one of the affected residents, recalled being charged with criminal trespass and sentenced to three years and a fine of Shs8m. He says that Murengyezi and other little holders on the land used the area police to brutalize and arrest many other residents as a way of securing the land.
Kyotera County MP John Paul Mpalanyi appealed to Dr. Mayanja to set up another MZO of sorts to facilitate registration services nearer Kyotera to expedite the process. The nearest MZO is in Masaka which the Lands Ministry uses to serve all the nearby districts. The area RDC Hajji Moses Dumba urged all occupants on the disputed Sango Bay land to register in time and appealed to those with queries to get assistance from the village, parish, Sub County and district authorities.
The RDC warned against bribery because that won’t be necessary at all during the registration exercise. The much-accused Faustino Murengyezi, who skipped the Minister’s meeting, remained elusive and refused to answer any questions media questions relating to Sango Bay. Staying away was perhaps the most prudent thing for him to do because the angry crowd that came for the Minister’s meeting would most likely have skinned him alive.(For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org).