All the 5 accused persons aged between 40-93 years are all residents of Kassanda District where they have lived with their families for a reasonably long period of time (above 12 years) as Bibanja holders on land that was bought by the complainant in 2012. They had been paying Busuulu and had evidence of the same.
In 2012, Namukwaya (the LandLord) resurfaced, surveyed /cleared her land boundaries and called for a meeting to identify the respective Bibanja holders. All the accused persons attended and the then caretaker introduced them to the landlord as rightful Bibanja Holders. She was however in the company of the complainant, Kabugo, who was not known to the accused persons. The Landlord then introduced the bibanja holders including the accused persons to Kasozi (the new LandLord) and commenced negotiations between the parties. Kasozi then convened the meeting and stated that those on side of the Rwamalongo L.C.1 would not be evicted but those in Kacwi L.C.1 should vacate to allow him to dig a water dam for his cattle.
That was the start of the ensuing conflicts. Several mediation sessions by leaders were convened but those yielded no fruit. In the mediation before the Resident District Commissioner- Kassanda, it was discussed, resolved and agreed to that the accused persons pay Busuulu to the Complainant which he agreed to but soon thereafter while on the ground, declined to receive the said Busuulu.
He instead opened up cases of Criminal Trespass against the accused persons with the Police officers at Mubende Central Police Station who successfully summoned the suspects but when they got there, they were arrested, charged, prosecuted and subsequently remanded to Kaweeri Government Prison in August 2018. JCU Mubende intervened and successfully applied for bail in respect of the accused persons. These were the first Clients on state Brief on the 09th of August 2018, shortly after the opening up of the Mubende Centre in August 2018.
They always turned up for their trial and complied with the bail terms until 2019 when the then Chief Magistrate, without any justification, cancelled their bail. They were further remanded to Kaweeri Prison. In May 2022, judgement was delivered, acquitting all the 5 accused persons of the charges of criminal trespass. The JCU advocate basically led evidence of ownership as a defence to the charges which the court upheld. Had it not been JCU’s intervention, they would be convicted, sentenced and evicted from their bibanja where they had stayed for so many years with their families.
The clients appreciated the services of JCU especially for standing with them in a hard fought battle. They promised to make a village party and invite JCU leadership as a way of appreciating our free legal services and expressing their gratitude towards our work. Furthermore, they promised to refer to JCU offices more persons with similar problems, who had cases in Kiganda Court in Kassanda District.
They were very grateful for our services. Threats to go back to prison vanished, security of residence was secured, comfort to the families of the accused persons was restored, the complainant abandoned trespass on our Clients’ land, possibly there will be security of livelihood since the clients can now settle and cultivate their food without interference.