Kabale Municipal Council is now without a cemetery. The town’s 60-year-old cemetery located in Mwanjari Ward in the Southern Division has been turned into a market amid protests from residents.
Several traders from Kabale Central Market recently begun building structures in the cemetery, as they prepare to be relocated from the old market which is set to be reconstructed.
The Shs 23 billion reconstruction project is being funded by the African Development Bank’s under the MATIP II program.
Local leaders and residents however, have expressed shock seeing traders erecting multiple structures over bodies reportedly still in the ground at the cemetery.
Richard Muhanguzi, the former speaker for Kabale Municipal Council and the current district councilor for Kirigime Ward, revealed that the council clearly resolved to first secure an alternative piece of land to move the bodies for reburial.
Muhanguzi says the council resolution has been ignored and that the mayor has instead has sent in graders to level up the cemetery for the traders to set up the kiosks.
“Leveling and grading the graves without relocating the remains of the deceased person is illegal and I am sure some people shall challenge this in courts of law. It’s a barbaric act,” he said.
Muhangizi adds that the council had resolved that before the relocation of bodies is done, religious leaders from all denominations must be invited to pray for the souls of the deceased, but that has not been done either.
In response however, Deo Byamukama the Kabale Municipal Speaker says the proposal of relocating the cemetery from its current location was brought in the council by Mayor Emmanuel Byamugisha Sentaro and was passed, but later the municipal council got court orders allowing traders to proceed with construction of their kiosks.
The Mayor Byamugisha on the other hand, says all bodies in the cemetery were hastily dug out and reburied in a mass grave in one of the corners of the plot.
Byamugisha 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,” said Byamugisha.