The Commission of Inquiry into land matters has unearthed the theft of Bukasa Cemetery land under the watch of Kampala Capital City Authority and Wakiso district land office. The defunct Kampala City Council acquired Bukasa Cemetery land measuring more than 40 acres in 1972 for the burial of unclaimed bodies.
However, this morning, the justice Catherine Bamugemereire learnt that of the more than 40 acres, only six acres are remaining. The rest of the land is occupied by encroachers. The Commission met officials from the KCCA physical Planning Department and the Land Management Unit who feigned ignorance about the encroachment on the Bukasa cemetery land.
Ebert Byenkya, the Commission's Legal Secretary questioned Mark Bwambale, the KCCA Acting Director Physical Planning, and the Land Unit Management Acting Director, Dickens Akena why the Authority has failed to secure the cemetery land.
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One puzzling questions is why KCCA is trying to claim only six acres instead of the forty acres that it may have inherited from the defunct Kampala City Council.
Wakiso District Land Board processed applications and recommended the award of freehold titles to individuals like Herbert Kiggundu for plot 390 block 242 that is inside the cemetery land. Others named to be occupying the land include the Seyani brothers who allegedly bought their portion from Herbert Kiggundu at Shillings 600 million.
Part of the cemetery land was taken by the Muslim Tabligh community and Naguru Muslim Association. It also has a number of private residences with registered titles. Wakiso District Staff Surveyor, Dr. Joseph Batume had earlier appeared before the Commission to explain why the District Land Board where he served for seven years process freehold titles on public land.
He however, avoided some of the questions relating to actions of the district land board during the hearing and would only answer those relating to his office as the District staff Surveyor. The Commission also discovered that Batume was previously hired as a private surveyor to survey the same land for Kampala City Council before he took up the job of District Staff Surveyor in Wakiso and later acted as Secretary to the District land Board.
The Commission wondered why Batume didn't advise the District Land Board that the land to which individuals were applying titles for belonged to Kampala City council. Batume told the Commission that Kampala City Council had tried to reclaim the land but it was discovered that it didn't have a title for it.
He said KCC was advised to apply for the land and that the district land board had written a minute recommending a freehold title for Kampala City Council. Kampala City Council reportedly applied for the title around 2008.
The application by KCC according to Commission's Lead Counsel, Ebert Byenkya raises suspicion of likely collusion between Wakiso Land Office, the defunct Kampala City Council and now Kampala Capital City Authority to parcel out the cemetery land.
The Commission's investigators retrieved correspondences between Former Kampala Mayor, Al Haj Nasser Ssebaggala and Wakiso district Chief Administrative officer. Al Haj Nasser Ssebaggala had in 2009 written to the Acting Chief planner then, to process a title for the cemetery land.
Kampala City Council according to Byenkya seems to have legitimized the action of Wakiso district land office when it applied for less than the original forty plus acres of land acquired in 1972. Byenkya also asked why Kampala Capital City Authority under Jennifer Musisi towed the same line and has for over seven years not secured the title.
Commissioner Dr. Rose Nakayi tasked Dickens Akena to explain whether there was a transition between Kampala city Council and KCCA.
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Akena who had earlier feigned ignorance about Bukasa cemetery land, said they decided to pursue the little land available so that they would follow up the rest. The KCCA Acting Director Physical Planning, Mark Bwambale stunned the Commission members when he failed to explain how many cemeteries are in Kampala. He said the cemeteries are under the directorate of Public Health.
That also led to questions whether KCCA under Jennifer Musisi has an inventory of the land and property acquired from the defunct Kampala City Council or freshly acquired by the Authority. Justice Catherine Bamugemereire also wondered about the fate of a cemetery in Ntinda formerly owned by Kampala City Council.
The cemetery was located between Ntinda Church of Uganda and a Primary School but it seems to have been retired under changed use. Bamugemereire ordered Bwambale and Dickson Akena to avail the Commission a complete inventory of all public land under KCCA.
KCCA Executive Director, Jennifer Musisi gave the Commission a Lands and Properties inventory in May but the Commission insists on a complete one.