By Hillary Nsambu, Damali Kisakye & Leticia Kahubire
In February, there was drama in the city as two of Kampala’s big shots evicted each other and each claimed ownership of a property on Plot 2 Colville Street.
The five-storey building changed names from Shumuk House to Backlines House and back to Shumuk House. Another disputed property is Hotel Diplomate on Plot 970&971, Muyenga Tank Hill.
According to court documents, the drama started when the of Pakistan Consul in Uganda, Bonny Katatumba, learnt that businessman Mukesh Shukla, who is the managing director of Shumuk Group of Companies, was planning to sell the building, yet the two had not yet settled a wrangle over its ownership.
The case was pending in court.
Katatumba applied to the High Court to stop Shukla from selling the property and got orders of attachment.
Lawyers representing Shumuk told the court on Monday that upon obtaining orders of attachment, Katatumba used the documents to evict his business rival.
He took them to the Execution and Bailiffs Division, they said, and erroneously obtained eviction orders and possession of the property against Shumuk Springs Development and Springs International Hotel Limited. Thus the building reverted to the original Blacklines House.
Upon eviction by Katatumba, Mukesh ran to the Registrar Execution and Court Bailiffs Division and obtained counter orders to evict Katatumba from the building, which was promptly done the next day. And the building was once again renamed Shumuk House.
Katatumba then referred the matter to the head of the division, Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, asking him to cancel Shukla’s eviction orders arguing that Irene Akankwasa, who issued them had no powers to cancel her predecessor’s orders, in which he had been re-instated into occupancy of the property because both of them were at par.
Owiny-Dollo said before a packed High Court on Monday, that the warrant of eviction issued by Assistant Registrar Henry Twinomuwhezi to the court bailiffs against Shumuk had no basis and was illegal.
He cancelled all the earlier eviction orders including the one that was issued by Akankwasa, saying they had all been issued unlawfully. Owiny-Dollo said he would oversee the order that would be re-issued from the Commercial Court.
The High Court directed that while the building remains in the hands of Mukesh, it should not be sold off until the ownership case is disposed of.
Owiny-Dollo ruled that the Registrar Execution and Bailiffs Division should refer the orders that had been issued earlier by the two registrars of the division he heads, back to the Registrar, Commercial Division.
The house under dispute located on Plot 2 Colville Street
A group of men removed the huge poster that Katatumba had placed on the building in question
The young men also took out property belonging to Katatumba after the eviction order
Katatumba is pictured here. PHOTO/Richard Sanya
This is so that he could extract the exact order he had made for Katatumba that led to the confusion, so as to bring it (order) in conformity with his ruling. He ordered Katatumba to pay the costs.
“Yet it is this that has brought about the saga I have berated herein. Thus, it would be unfair for the applicants to benefit from a wrong that was their making and; for that they should pay the costs of this application,” Owiny Dollo said.
He also set aside the eviction of Shumuk Springs Development and Springs International Hotel.
The ruling meant that Shumuk, who is occupying the premises currently, should stay on the property, until the court finally decides on the saga.
How it began?
It is alleged that in 2008, Katatumba ran into financial difficulties and deposited a number of titles of the units on the then Blacklines House in Crane Bank for a loan.
It is also alleged that he staked over 100 titles for the same number of units of the Blacklines House with Crane Bank. However, when he failed to clear the bank, he ran to his then friend, Mukesh, for a bail-out, totalling $4.63m.
However, Shukla insists that he did not give Katatumba a bail-out. “The understanding was that I buy the premises,” he said.
According to the project manager of Shumuk Springs Development and Springs International Hotel, Patrick Muheirwaho, Katatumba also wanted money to rescue his Hotel Diplomate, which was also on the verge of being sold off.
He also needed $1.7m he allegedly obtained as condominium for 27 units on Blacklines House.
Mukesh said: “Katatumba entered into a deal to sell me Blacklines House at a cost of $5m (sh11b), which was later revised to $4m (sh10bn). Later, he breached the sales agreement terms, failing to avail Shumuk Group with all the titles of the property after receiving a payment of $3.7m (sh9bn).”
But according to Katatumba, all this is a result of a misunderstanding between him and Mukesh whom he trusted, but has now turned against him.
The matter is still in court.