ISINGIRO – Over 2,000 Christians of Kitezo Catholic church in Kabuyanda Catholic parish in Archdiocese of Mbarara, are stranded after unknown people demolished their church whose construction had cost over Shs 250 million.
Donaldo Tibesigwa, the Chairperson of Kitezo Catholic Centre says the church was invaded by unknown thugs who illegally razed it down in the night.
The demolition is part of a land dispute between Margret Kwatiraho Kibundigwire and Kitezo Catholic Church. Tibesigwa claims that the land (Block No 75 Plot No 1 at Kabumba, Ntundu in Isingiro district) which measures 12 hectares was intitially grabbed by the late Corinerio Kwatiraho, husband to Margaret.
He said Corinerio was a neighbor to the church land in the question.
They allege that Kwatiraho had migrated from Ruborogota in 1962 and later was given position on the church land committee. This position is what he used to grab the land in question which the church had started using since 1956, according to Tibesigwa.
Tibesigwa together with the Christians in Kitezo accuse their own Kaoffice Aloysius, 64, the son to Corinerio of having sponsored the goons who carried out the demolition.
However, Aloysius who is the Chairperson FRONASA in Isingiro district refutes the allegations saying as an NRM exemplary leader, he cannot be involved in such criminal activities on the house of God where he prays from.
SoftPowerNews has seen a letter by the Archdiocese of Mbarara signed by Vicar General of Archdiocese of Mbarara Rev Fr. Bukenya Deusdedit dated September 11, 2018 addressed to the Secretary of the Catherine Bamugemereire Commission of Inquiry. In the letter, the Vicar states that the Archdiocese has no interest in the land.
The letter adds that the Archdiocese has established that the certificate of title exists for Margret Kwatiraho Kibundigwire on the land thus advising the parish priest to organize the believers and ensure they remove and relocate the church to a place outside the disputed land.
A week later, the Secretary to Commission of Inquiry, Douglas Singiza wrote to the Church leadership directing them to remove the church structure from the land in question.
On November 2, the Commission also wrote to Margaret advising her to “proceed and take physical possession of the land in order to safeguard land in question from further encroachment”.
However, the church defied the order to vacate the property prompting Abeine-Buregyeya and Co. Advocates, the lawyers to Margaret to give a seven-day ultimatum to the church to vacate or face eviction.
In an October 30 letter to the Vicar General and Members of the Board of Trustees of the Archdiocese of Mbarara, the lawyers wrote that failure to comply with the ultimatum to vacate the land, “we shall release the legal machinery to evict you at your own costs, peril and embarrassment”.
However, the Christians insist the land belongs to the church and they are not willing to vacate it.
The District Police Commander Isingiro Erimu Richard who visited the scene on Thursday afternoon advised the Christians to cooperate with police and other stakeholders to resolve the dispute without any form of violence.
He made reference to the letters from Archdiocese of Mbarara and Land Inquiry Commission.
Erimu said Police investigations into the demolition of the church are ongoing and once found, the suspects will be charged according to the investigations findings.