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Rage As State House Official Takes Over "Punishment Island"

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George Tukwasiibwe, a canoe operator on Lake Bunyonyi and resident of Burimba cell in Rubaya Sub County in Kabale district says that the takeover of the Punishment Island threatens the tourism sector since it has been one of the tourist attractions.
Some of the Structures which Muhereza was erecting

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There is public outrage in Kabale and Rubanda districts following a decision by a state house official to take over the historical punishment island alias Akampene in Lake Bunyonyi. The island, which borders Bufundi Sub County in Rubanda district and Rubaya Sub County in Kabale district, used to be a dumping site for young girls who got pregnant outside wedlock.

The girls would either starve to death or drown while trying to swim to the mainland. The lucky ones would be saved by impoverished men who couldn't afford the price of a bride and didn't care about stigma. However, the communities stopped confining the girls on the island in the 1940s due to the influence of Christian missionaries.

The island had until now remained a tourist site for both locals and international visitors. However, residents went up in arms on Tuesday when they saw Mathias Muhereza, a state house official and former Rubanda West county parliamentary candidate taking over the Island forcefully.

According to residents, they saw Muhereza and his workers clearing and erecting a wooden dock on the island under the tight protection of the Police Presidential Guards-PPG. They also erected a wooden foundation to erect a shelter for a bar. 

Drake Diaz Owoyesigire, a resident and a tour guide at Lake Buyonyi, says they are angered by Muhereza's decision to destroy the community owned island to erect a bar. He is also worried that Muhereza might pollute the lake since he has to construct toilets for patrons on the tiny island. Owoyesigire says Muhereza threatened to shoot him in case he continues lamenting about his takeover of the island.

Owoyesigyire has filed a case of threatening violence case against Muhereza at Kabale police station vide reference: SD33/17/01/2018.

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George Tukwasiibwe, a canoe operator on Lake Bunyonyi and resident of Burimba cell in Rubaya Sub County in Kabale district says that the takeover of the Punishment Island threatens the tourism sector since it has been one of the tourist attractions.

He accuses Muhereza of using his state house connections to intimidate residents opposed to his takeover of the Island.

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Engineer Ivan Mbabazi Batuma, the chairperson Kigezi Tourism Cluster, an association and advocacy platform promoting the interests of tourism development in the region, wonders why Muhereza is destroying nature at the Punishment Island without the knowledge of tourism stakeholders.

Batuma says that the history of Punishment Island must be preserved.

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Muhereza says nobody will stop him from erecting structures at the island. He claims that the Island belongs to the Bakongwe Clan, where he belongs, adding that those complaining are from Basigyi clan and nonresidents.  

Muhereza says he is planning to plant trees and natural grass as a way of preserving the punishment island.

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Ramadhan Tai, the Rubanda District Police Commander, says they have started investigating the matter.