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Teargas Rocks Kabale As Police Battle Defiant Wetland Encroachers

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Evas Asiimwe, the Kabale District Environment Officer, says she approached cultivators in the disputed wetland last year and asked them to vacate voluntarily. According to Asiimwe, they agreed with local leaders and residents to use Kabari wetland for apiary and raw material for crafts.
14 Jul 2020 10:24
Suspects after being arrested

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Tear gas rocked Rubaya Sub County in Kabale district on Monday as police arrested two wetland encroachers. 

Cosmas Mutungi and Owen Barijunaki, both residents of Kihorongwa Village in Rubaya Sub County were accused of encroaching on 30 hectares of Kabari wetland on Lake Bunyonyi shores.  

Evas Asiimwe, the Kabale District Environment Officer, says she approached cultivators in the disputed wetland last year and asked them to vacate voluntarily. 

According to Asiimwe, they agreed with local leaders and residents to use Kabari wetland for apiary and raw materials for crafts.  

She however, says the duo defied the directive and continued draining the wetland for cultivation. 

Asiimwe says the duo also threatened to hack Sub county officials and residents who tried to stop them from cultivating the wetland.

//Cue in: “most of the…   

Cue out: ….those wetlands.”//

Rukiga

//Cue in: “abantu ba rwanyena….

Cue out: …enforcement abaserikare.”//

 

On Monday, Rubaya Sub County officials and residents led by the LC III Chairperson, Saime Twesigomwe organised themselves and decided to evict Mutungi and Barijunaki from the wetland.

The situation turned violent as the suspects picked up machetes and spears to confront the residents.

A scuffle ensured prompting the Field Force Unit led by Henry Kisembo to fire tear gas to save the duo from being lynched by angry residents. 

Elly Maate, the Kigezi Region police spokesperson, says that the suspects were arrested and taken to Kabale central police station as investigations are ongoing.

//Cue in: “they have been…

Cue out: …go on.”//

Rukiga

//Cue in: “okushisha obuhangwa…

Cue out: …kubarwanisiza kimwe.”//   

Mutungi claims that they are only being harassed because of jealous by Twesigomwe. According to Mutungi, he inherited the disputed land from his late mother.    

//Cue in: “ekiratuma baratugwaniisa neitima…   

Cue out: …abeigyiza heifwe.”// 

   

President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly appealed to Ugandans to voluntarily vacate wetlands. 

In July 2018, government launched measures to conserve Lake Bunyonyi following complaints from activists and district officials. 

They complained that the depth of the Lake had reduced by 1.2 meters because of soil erosion and poor farming methods by communities neighboring the lake. 

Bunyonyi, the second deepest Lake in Africa is one of the top tourism revenue earners for Uganda and the main source of water for Kabale town.  Initially, the lake had a depth of 900 meters.

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