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Live Bullets as Police Battles Namanve Forest Encroachers

They had also formed committees of leaders registering the beneficiaries. But police raided the area early today and started hunting down all people who had illegally taken over the land. Business came to a standstill as forces pursued the encroachers in the areas of Bagaala, Gwafu and Nantaburirwa zones in Goma Division.
Encroachers being taken to Mukono police division.

Audio 2

Police in Mukono has fired live bullets and teargas to disperse encroachers on Namanve Central Forest Reserve in Seeta town. The group descended on the forest reserve on Tuesday, armed with pangas, sticks, and metals and parcelled the forest land into small plots.

They had also formed committees of leaders registering the beneficiaries. But police raided the area early today and started hunting down all people who had illegally taken over the land. Business came to a standstill as forces pursued the encroachers in the areas of Bagaala, Gwafu and Nantaburirwa zones in Goma Division.

The pursuit had however remained futile until residents in the areas joined the police to identify nonresidents who were hiding amongst them. So far more than 80 people have been arrested in the operation, and over 100 motorcycles impounded.

The contested land is part of Namanve Central Forest Reserve gazetted in 1932. It measures more than 2,000 hectares, which used to contain a natural forest before it was destroyed by grabbers.

Stephen Ssenfuma, the Defence Secretary of Seeta Ward blames security personnel for taking long to deploy when unidentified armed personnel surrounded off the community, on Tuesday. He said that part of the seized land had gardens which have now been destroyed.

//Cue in; “Abantu bali mu nnaku…

Cue out…Eva kumpi.”//

Zac Kakande, another resident of the area says the presence of encroachers had already created instability in the community since all occupants have been armed.

//Cue in; “Babadde balina…

Cue out…nga obuliwo.”//                        

Aisha Alibhai, the NFA Spokesperson says that some of the ringleaders belong to a syndicate involved in land grabbing in the areas around Kampala. She says they mainly come from areas of Bukasa, Kasokoso and Kireka.

Kampala Metropolitan Deputy Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigire says they are still compiling a detailed report about the illegal takeover.