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Tibebaaga lost a 45-year land case, is not happy

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd June 2011 03:00 AM

JOHN Tibebaaga woke up to people demanding that he leaves their land; this was October 10, 1985. However, Tibebaaga claimed he was the rightful owner of the land, that he had purchased in 1959.

JOHN Tibebaaga woke up to people demanding that he leaves their land; this was October 10, 1985. However, Tibebaaga claimed he was the rightful owner of the land, that he had purchased in 1959.

BY VICKY WANDAWA

JOHN Tibebaaga woke up to people demanding that he leaves their land; this was October 10, 1985. However, Tibebaaga claimed he was the rightful owner of the land, that he had purchased in 1959.

Those who demanded that he leaves the land were Father Naresesio Begumisa, Baturumaho Ntimba, Deo Komunda and Elias Kamondo.

In 1959, Tibebaaga, a resident of Rukungiri district, purchased land that was adjacent to his from Raphael Kanyarwanda. Five years later, Margaret Nyinakigwene, a sister of Kanyarwanda, claimed that part of her land had been sold without her consent. Unfortunately, Kanyarwanda had migrated and so he could not verify Nyinakigwene’s claims.

The land occupant and claimant went to court and the chief magistrate declared that Tibebaaga was the owner of the land. Dissatisfied with the judgment, Nyinakigwene’s nephew, Elias Kamondo, took the case back to court and again, Tibebaaga won.

However, Kamondo appealed and won the case. This time round, Kanyarwanda’s father admitted that his son could have made a mistake and sold part of his sister’s land. The court then awarded the disputed land to Kamondo and Tibebaaga was left with 22 acres of surveyed land. He kept the land title in a bank.

Kamondo sold the land he got to Father Begumisa.

During the 1985 guerilla war, Tibebaaga fled, but went back when peace returned. It is then, he claims, Father Begumisa, Ntimba, Komunda and Kamondo allegedly invaded the land, saying they were the rightful owners. Tibebaaga lost cattle, chicken and a banana plantation in the process.

Tibebaaga relocated to Entebbe, but 12 years later, he retrieved his land title from the bank and sued the trio in the High Court. He was represented by Salim Makera.

Tibebaaga told the court that he had applied for a land title and that the adjudication committee and the Government surveyors verified and surveyed the land after which he was granted a certificate of freehold title. 

Defendants’ testimony

The trio pleaded that they were the owners of the land and denied having participated in the attack that destroyed Tibebaaga’s property.
Father Begumisa testified that in 1982, he bought a four-acre piece of land from Kamondo which he cultivated it and built semi-permanent houses. In 1990, he started construction of a permanent house, he said. Tibebaaga’s land was separated from his portion by Kamondo’s land.
Furthermore, the defendants said Tibebaaga only owned an unsurveyed two-acre piece of land adjacent to theirs.

However, there was no evidence that the land belonged to the trio.
The judge made an order to evict the trio and to permanently restrain them from trespassing on the land. They were ordered to pay damages amounting to sh20m.

appeal
After the trio lost the case, they said Tibebaaga had used the wrong title to deprive them of the land.

This was on the basis of a report indicating that the two pieces of land, the one on the title and the one Tibebaaga claimed was his, were in different locations. Based on that report, the trio applied to the court for leave to adduce additional evidence as regards a forged land title. The court granted them leave.

The trio opened a case against Tibebaaga, accusing him of using a forged title to claim the land.
It is then that the Police engaged the services of a surveyor from the lands and survey department in Rukungiri, to ascertain the location of the land described in the title.

Lawrence Bwogi, assistant commissioner for surveys and mapping, revealed that the land in the title was in a different place from where the title suggested.

Another surveyor testified that the land described in Tibebaaga’s title deed did not tally with the land he had applied for.

Later, the Court of Appeal held that the additional evidence was worthless because it was obtained in breach of the rules of natural justice and that there was conspiracy to deprive Tibebaaga of his land. The trio lost.
They appealed in 2000 and the appeal was dismissed.

Appeal to Supreme Court

The trio then appealed to the Supreme Court. The quoram of the court was led by Justice Joseph Mulenga.

On November 11, 2003, Tibebaaga’s lawyer, Makera, wrote a complaint against having Justice Mulenga preside over the case because he was Kamondo’s relative. However, the court deferred his complaint, saying it would deal with it later.

On June 27, 2004, a judgment was passed in favour of the trio and the costs they were meant to pay were reversed to Tibebaaga.

The most significant issue was the lack of any independent evidence to prove that Tibebaaga’s assertion that the land, which the adjudication committee verified as his, was surveyed.

The evidence for the appellants showed that the title Tibebaaga held was different from the land he claimed was his.

“…I uphold that the respondent failed to prove that he was the owner of the suit land or any part of it and/or that the appellants trespassed on the suit or any part of it.

In the result, I would allow this appeal and set aside the judgments of the courts below and substitute an order dismissing the respondent’s suit. I would award to the appellants costs in this court and the courts below,” said Justice Mulenga.

Following the court ruling, Tibebaaga became landless and had to leave the village. Today he lives in his son’s home in Entebbe. To keep him busy, his children bought for him two cows to zero graze.

He is sad about losing the land after 45 years, even when he had a land title, but since the ruling was made by the Supreme Court, he cannot appeal anywhere else.

  • 1959: John Tibebaaga buys land in Rukungiri distrtict from Raphael Kanyarwanda


  • 1964: Kanyarwanda’s sister claims he sold part of her land without her consent


  • Tibabega goes to court and the judge declares he is the rightful owner of the land.


  • After a series of appeals, the court awards the disputed land to Kanyarwanda’s family
  • Tibebaaga lost a 45-year land case, is not happy

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