Deputy Chief Justice Asks Magistrates to Visit Disputed Land Sites

Speaking to journalists at Luwero Chief Magistrate Court, Buteera said magistrates must always endeavour to visit the disputed land before they resolve the row.
DCJ Richard Buteera being welcomed at Luwero Chief Magistrate by His Worship Samuel Munobe

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Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera has asked Chief Magistrates in Greater Luwero to make an effort and visit disputed land sites.

According to the Annual Crime report for 2020, Luwero district registered 124 cases of criminal trespass and these mainly were related to land cases. Luwero district was ranked 10th across the country with the highest cases of criminal cases. Currently, there are 193 land cases out of a total of 491 case backlogs at Luwero Magistrate Court.

Speaking to journalists at Luwero Chief Magistrate Court, Buteera said magistrates must always endeavour to visit the disputed land before they resolve the row.

He said magistrates that face challenges of transport, should always contact the Judiciary Chief Registrar Sarah Langa for support.

Buteera explained that land cases need to be handled with care and concern because mistrial may result in criminal cases.

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In 2007, the judiciary issued practice notice directing that before land cases are disposed of, magistrates and judges must visit the land to undertake an in-depth investigation.

While there the magistrate or judges are supposed to observe, view, record opinions and cross-examine parties on the disputed land.

The Luwero Chief Magistrate Samuel Munobe says that lack of transport and limited resources had hindered visiting the disputed pieces of land. 

Munobe says that internally they had worked out a plan to request other stakeholders who include Resident District Commissioners and Chief Administrative Officers for transport to visit the disputed land.

Local leaders and residents say land wrangles have partly contributed to increasing cases of homicides in the area.

Erustus Kibirango a land lawyer and the LCV Chairperson elect of Luwero district said he attended the burial of three people who were killed due to land wrangles.

Kibirango said that several other criminal cases which include malicious property damage, threatening violence and the criminal are rampant in the area because of unfair land judgements.

Kibirango says that if the magistrates take DCJ Buteera’s advice, there could be a reduction in criminal cases.

Kibirango also asked Resident State Attorney to stop sanctioning land cases as criminal cases yet they are civil and restrain Police from arresting people on cases like criminal trespass.

Several people lost lives over land-related wrangles. Among them is Jackson Katinda Bisaso alias Musa, a businessman at Tweyanze village in Katikamu sub-county was also shot dead in August 2020 by Private Sadiki Olobo attached to the Special Forces Command-SFC, Private Jackson Apiku a soldier attached to Air-base School Nakasongola over a land dispute.

It is alleged that the two soldiers were hired by a brother Richard Sebina Ssekitoleko to kill Katinda, who is his brother for refusing to sell 2.5 acres of family land. 

The soldiers together with Ssekitoleko were arrested, charged in a court-martial and remanded on murder charges.     

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