Pierre Mbabazi, a resident of Kabale Municipality has petitioned the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire’s Commission of Inquiry on Land Matters, over destruction of the Municipality cemetery.
Mbabazi, in a 20th April 2018 letter, asked the commission to intervene in what he calls the “evil, dehumanizing and disrespectful” act.
The cemetery in question was officially gazzeted in 1954 has since been burial grounds for the Municipality.
Mbabazi notes that even the three men, Joseph Bitwari, James Karambuzi and David K. Tusingwire, who were executed by firing squad by President Idi Amin 10th February 1973 for belonging to the Yoweri Museveni-led FRONASA group, were buried at this cemetery.
“We were however, shocked in January, seeing municipal tractors commanded by the Town Clerk and the Mayor, digging up the bodies and piling them up in heaps of soil,” said the petitioner.
According to Mbabazi, Kabale municipal authorities connived with commissioners in the Ministry of Lands in Entebbe and split the cemetery into 15 plots.
Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha, the Kabale mayor, says the project was endorsed by district councillors and the Ministry of Local Government that the cemetery, covering 10 acres be graded and levelled and turned into a park.
He says all the bodies were exhumed and reburied in a mass grave at one of the corners of the cemetery
“We have started with grading and levelling the site and on finishing, we shall pour marram, fence it off before making it ready for use,” says Byamugisha.
“We shall allow other development partners to put up restaurants, hotels and warehouses to make the place busier so that we can generate more money to fund different development projects for the Kabale Municipal Council,” he added.
Kiregyere garbage collection site has been provided as alternative burial site for unclaimed bodies.
A total of Shs50 million according to the mayor, has been budgeted for remodelling and upgrading the site for business.
Sentaro says they expect to reap at least Shs10 million every month from the facility expected to be completed by end of this financial year, and Shs500 million in years to come.
The mayor says the council followed all procedures, including getting an exhumation certificate from the Kabale High Court.
He adds that announcements were placed on radio stations and in newspapers informing and inviting people to exhume bodies of their loved ones and rebury them where they want.
“We notified people that anyone who has someone buried in the cemetery should come, exhume the body and rebury it where he or she wants within 14 days after the exhumation certificate was issued. But no one responded and the council had to start its developments on the cemetery,” says Byamugisha.
But the petitioner says the move to deprive the people of Kabale, a decent burial group which was provided to the Uganda land commission should not go unchallenged.