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Uganda: Kayihura blames RPC over Sembabule land eviction shooting

SEMBABULE. The Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura has faulted Mr Latif Zaake, the Southern regional police commander over the Thursday land eviction shooting in Sembabule District, where one person was shot dead and three others escaped with severe injuries.

The police officers who opened fire at residents, who were protesting eviction from their land, had gone to enforce an eviction order at Kashunga Village in Lwemiyaga Sub -County.

Police identified the deceased as George Taryebwa, 18. However, a one George Nyasharita and Benon Tumuhaire survived with injuries. Nyasharita was shot in the right leg. The trio is from the same family.

Gen. Kayihura, who later paid a courtesy visit to the aggrieved family told Mr Zaake, who was also present, that his weak leadership caused loss of life and property, which taints Police image.

“You have to accept failure of leadership. How can such incidences happen? I would have arrested you, but you are a good officer and just don’t understand what went wrong,” Mr Kayihura said.

Mr Zaake, who appeared scared, had no space to respond to his boss’s accusation and kept quiet.

Mr Henry Baguma, the Sembabule Resident District Commissioner, said the police officers who came from Masaka did not bother to inform him, neither the district police commander, but just went direct to Lwemiyaga to carry out the eviction.

During such evictions, Mr Baguma said the district security committee, normally first discusses on how peaceful an eviction can be effected, summon the victims, but all this wasn’t followed.

“I just received a call from someone in Kampala that a resident in the district had been shot dead in an eviction protest. The DPC also went to scene after the shooting. This was a big mistake,” Mr Baguma said

On Thursday morning, police officers attached to Masaka Central Police and a team of other 50 people descended on Kashunga Village in Lwemiyaga Sub County to execute a court eviction order, where 11 families had to vacate a 600 acre- piece of land.

It is reported that the police officers faced resistance from residents which saw them resort to shooting. The trio was all relatives to Mr Moses Mushabe, who lost a court case to Mr George Makumbi who also has a claim on the land.

However, eye witnesses say the residents turned rowdy after seeing their houses being torched and used spears to attack Police officers.

“When the police officers came with a team of mercenaries, they didn’t tell us anything, they just got on our houses, burnt them and also destroyed banana and maize plantations. This forced the deceased (George Taryebwa) to get a spear and attacked a police officer, but he was shot by another cop before he threw the spear,” Mr Moses Mushabe, the father of the deceased said

The hired group, according to Zzake left 11 houses burnt and property destroyed.

At least 52 people have been arrested in connection with this incident and are currently in police cells at Sembabule Police Station .The IGP said the suspects will be charged of murder, aggravated robbery and malicious damage to property.

Back ground of the land dispute

According to Mr Moses Mushabe the land dispute started in 2000 after him and his brother bought the said land from relatives of Mr George Makumbi, at Shs 20 million, who later claimed that he was not aware, yet is the heir of their father the late Joshua Sensoga.

This saw Makumbi sue them in court where they have battled for 14 years until recently when the Masaka High Court ruled in his favour.

However, Mr Sunday Sentamu, a brother to Makumbi said they only sold their share and Makumbi had no reason whatsoever to challenge their decision in court.

“We told him that each of the 32 orphans takes his share, but he (Makumbi) refused and he is now tarnishing the name of our family. It us who sold the land to Mushabe and the group and they paid all the money, but he is now frustrating them,” Mr Sentamu said.

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