Court has now summoned Ruperalia to appear in court on April 13 over the blatant abuse of Lake Victoria which he is being accused of perpetrating. This is after he failed to appear on the three occasions when the case was brought up in court.
Barirega Akankwasah, NEMA ED at the site. NEMA photo
Entebbe Chief Magistrate's Court has summoned businessman Rajiv Ruparelia over alleged environmental degradation. He is accused of dumping soil in the water and on the shores of Lake Victoria at Kitubulu, Katabi Town Council.
The case is before Grade One Magistrate Elizabeth Kabugho who has summoned Rajiv Ruperalia to appear in court on April 13 to take plea.
This is after he failed to appear on three occasions when the case was
brought up in court.
Kabugho has also issued a production warrant for
lawyer Male Mabirizi, currently imprisoned for contempt of court, to participate in the proceedings on April 13.
Mabirizi is serving a jail term of 18 months at Kitalya Prison for
contempt of court.
case against Rajiv was first brought to court by Mabirizi, who instituted private prosecution proceedings against
Ruparelia last December.
on January 20, when Rajiv was expected to take plea, State Attorney
Timothy Amerit presented a letter dated January 6th, 2022 stating that the Director of
Public Prosecutions-DPP has an interest in taking over Rajiv's case file. Mabirizi however protested the move.
then argued that the case should be adjourned to a date when Rajiv
could attend court, take plea and listen to the proceedings including
submissions for and against DPP taking over the case file.
cited Article 120 of the 1995 Uganda Constitution which provides powers
to the DPP to take over proceedings initiated by individuals or other
authorities at any stage.
Mabirizi protested the move to take over the case, saying the DPP wants
to ‘kill’ the case. He added that it is unconstitutional to hear the
case in Rajiv’s absence.
As a result, Amerit
and Mabirizi asked the judicial officer to issue criminal
summons against Rajiv.
Kabugho however did not pronounce herself on either issue. She instead adjourned the case to February 21.
On February 21, Rajiv Ruparelia was expected to take plea. The
magistrate Kabugho was also expected to deliver her ruling on whether
or not the DPP has powers to take over
the case file from private prosecutor Male Mabirizi.
However, Rajiv, Mabirizi and State Attorney Timothy
Amerit were absent. Rajiv's lawyer Nelson Walusimbi told court that that his client could not
attend court because he was indisposed. He said that Rajiv had contracted COVID-19 and was in self-isolation.
noted that State Attorney Amerit had communicated that he was
undertaking a week-long training and would therefore not attend court.
Mabirizi did not communicate his absence. But at the time, he was hiding
after the High Court had sentenced him to serve a jail term of 18
months for contempt of court. He was later arrested and in prison at the moment.
Magistrate Kabugho then adjourned the case of March 9 to enable the accused person,
the private prosecutor or his representative and the state attorney to
On March 9, the proceedings failed to take off because Rajiv did not appear in court.
Magistrate Kabugho has now issued criminal summons against Rajiv to compel him to appear on April 13.
Accusing Ruparelia, Mabirizi said he moved to initiate private
prosecution proceedings against Rajiv Ruparelia as a responsible citizen
because the National Environment Management Authority-NEMA and police would most likely not arrest or charge him for
dumping soil in the lake.
He accuses Rajiv Ruparelia, the Managing Director
of Speke Hotel of undertaking activities in the protected zones along
riverbanks, lakeshores, and natural beaches contrary to Section 53 of
the National Environment Act, 2019.
The same Act provides for
penalties, whereby a person on conviction may pay a fine not exceeding
shillings 600 million or serve not more than 12 years in jail or both.
December, NEMA ordered Speke Hotel to remove all the
soil it had dumped on the fringes of Lake Victoria shorelines before it can be allowed to resume
construction works in Kitubulu, Katabi town council.
the directive after Maria Assumpta Nakamya, a resident of Entebbe,
complained about soil being dumped into the lake. The authority and
police officers visited the site and then met Ruparelia Group which owns
Speke Hotel over their activities in Kitubulu.
noted that there were concerns of lakeshore degradation from soil
siltation into Lake Victoria, contrary to conditions of approval in the
Environment and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Certificate issued to
the developer in 2020.
According to NEMA, Speke Hotel acquired a
permit to build a hotel where Ssese Gateway Beach was previously located
with the condition of maintaining the buffer zone of 100metres as
provided for in the riverbanks and lakeshore use regulations, 2020. The
hotel also applied for a permit to build a marina in the same place but
NEMA, in a tweet on December 12th, 2021, said the application was denied.
month, NEMA board of directors and management inspected the site to
assess whether or not their orders had been implemented. The management
ordered Rajiv Ruparelia to comply with environment laws, and added that
the order to halt activities at the site still stands until further