Senior Police Officer Warns Against Contempt of Local Council Courts.
By Byamukama Libino
Rubanda – The Kigezi Region Community Liaison Officer ASP Enoch Hatangimana has cautioned locals against defying decisions made by the local council one courts saying that it is one of the causes of too many unresolved conflicts.
Hatangimana was speaking over the weekend at a meeting to solve a land dispute between Happiness Bagarukayo and his four sisters led by Unika Kemigisha overt their late father Ephraim Karegyesa’s land in Bushura ward, Hamuhambo town council, Rubanda district.
Despite the law expressly empowering Local council courts to among other things, handle causes and matters of civil nature governed only by customary law, which includes customary land disputes, locals in Kigezi sub-region have on several times defied their authority according to the Police officer.
Hatangimana’s statements were in reference to reports that Mr. Bagarukayo, the only son of his family had refused to pay the fines amounting Ugx150,000 slapped against him by the LC.1 court for trespassing on his sister’s crop garden.
Bagarukayo reportedly resorted to physically attacking his sister Kemigisha who in turn cut him on the waist with a panga, in self-defense. The case was forwarded to the LC.2 and LC.3 courts which Bagarukayo also defied, and continued threatening to kill his sister in revenge.
However, ASP Hatangimana warned that such behaviour can lead to serious punishments by the higher courts of law since the Local council court judgements can be upheld and enforced by the judges.
“Even if the judgements are written in local languages, they can be interpreted and translated by the grade 1 or grade 2 magistrates, and the court bailiffs will preside over selling off your property to raise the money you refused to pay, plus the fines for contempt of court,” said Hatangimana.
The Hamuhambo Town Council Mayor Aggrey Bandebaho argued that the case could have been resolved several months ago had it not been the refusal of Bagarukayo to pay the fines and continue using the land with his sister interchangeably.
After a period of about five hours of discussion, the LC.3 Councilor representing Bushura ward in Hamuhambo Town Council Dorothy Muhwezi and the Gomborora Internal Security Officer- GISO Mugisha Gordon proposed that the land in dispute be divided amongst the five children of the late Ephraim Karegyesa to prevent further bloodshed.
The meeting which attracted area authorities including the officer in charge of Bunyonyi Police Post, all members of the local councils, locals whose homes neighbour the family in conflict and family members unanimously agreed that all the land left behind by the late Ephraim Karegyesa should be divided equally among his children. It was agreed that the portioning of the land be done on 6th September 2022, presided over by the local council authorities.