Mbale Residents oppose wetland demarcation; Police kills one


MBALE:Last week, Shock engulfed residents of Masanda village, Aisa Parish, Namanyonyi Sub County in Mbale district when the Anti-riot police accidentally killed a 24 year youth while dispersing angry residents who were protesting against demarcating their land located in Namakole Wetland in Namanyonyi.

The deceased was identified as Hassan Mukasa a resident of the same village who is believed to have been a distance away from the protesters that day. Police fired tear gas and stray bullets which hit him and died on while being taken to the hospital.

The eyewitness told The Homeland Newspaper that, Mr. Mukasa was not part of the demonstrators but by the time of police’s firing, he was in the same direction with the protesters which left him vulnerable.

“We were standing with him nearer so when the police started firing we ran away from that direction but he remained there that is why he was hit by the stray bullet” one eyewitness said

Khasifa Khainza, the grandmother of Mr. Mukasa also died because of pressure after getting the news of the death of his grandson who had been taking care of him.

The war between police residents erupted when a team of officials from the Ministry of Water and Environment in Mbale District in together with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) embarked on the restoration of Namakole Wetland which covers eight villages in Namanyonyi and Nakaloke Sub County.

The team started with demarcation of the wetland from Bungulya village and proceeded to Masanda village.On reaching Masanda village, residents, majority being youths stopped the team from stepping in their village on grounds that the Area LC one who is familiar with the boundaries was absent.                                                                

The team was forced to proceed to Nanyulu village, the residents however re mobilized and crossed to Nanyulu to stop the exercise there. Police was forced to fire tea gas and live bullets to disperse the protesters.

After the shooting, both the police and the demarcating team to withdraw after barely three hours of work.

Residents vowed that they were not going to evacuate the place since this is their ancestral land.

They blamed their LC three for deceiving them that the government was willing to compensate them before they go away. “Instead of coming with negotiators, we are seeing police, this is our land and we shall not leave it like that” one resident said

At the burial of the two in Masanda, the residents vowed to fight till the end. “Hon. Mayor we are sending you please take our message to the RDC, DPC and other security officers that I will not lose twice a son and land that I bought. I and other residents are ready to die here, we want them to find us here and kill us all before they take our land” the father of the deceased said

Abas Were, the Gombolola internal Security Officer-GISO, blamed the situation to poor sanitization methods saying that the project was abruptly introduced to residents.

Sizomu Rabi Wambende, the Bungokho North Member of Parliament termed the police’s action as being unprofessional. “How would you fire bullets to the people who are unarmed without even Pangas he could have been arrested instead”.

When contacted on the matter, Robert Tukei the Elgon region police spokesperson said that police did not kill the young man deliberately.

“He was not part of the protesters but the bullet accidentally hit him as police we regret his death and are still investigating the matter” he said via a phone interview


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