The Mukono Magistrates Court has decided to suspend proceedings in a criminal case involving Jackson Twinamatsiko, the former chairperson of the Mukono District land committee board. The pause is temporary and awaits the resolution of a high court civil suit. Twinamatsiko faces charges related to criminal trespass, malicious damage, and the removal of boundaries on a piece of land located on Mbeya Island within Mukono District’s Mpunge sub-county.
The allegations against Twinamatsiko involve claims that he hired individuals to cut down trees and demolish a house owned by Maj. Mark Wanyama on March 16, 2023.
Presiding Chief Magistrate Roselyn Nsenge explained that her decision to halt the proceedings stemmed from the concern of potential conflicts in judgment, as both parties involved have cases pending in the High Court. She emphasized the importance of having the case handled by a competent court, given the interconnected nature of the civil and criminal matters.
On September 28, the prosecution, led by Collin Ouma, informed the court that both the criminal and civil cases could proceed concurrently. Twinamatsiko had requested the suspension of the criminal proceedings until the civil case, where he is disputing land ownership with Maj. Wanyama, reaches a verdict. The prosecution also argued that determining the landowner was unnecessary since the complainant, Wanyama, was in possession of the land.
Jabaru Luyima, the legal officer representing Maj. Wanyama, asserted that his client had acquired the 25-acre land from Francis Tyaba in 2019 and possessed all the necessary documentation to prove his ownership. Expressing dissatisfaction with the Chief Magistrate’s ruling, Luyima stated their intent to appeal the decision and accused Twinamatsiko of land grabbing.
In defence, Twinamatsiko’s lawyer, Stephen Turyatunga, claimed that his client was the original purchaser of the land from Francis Tyaba.
Earlier this year, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) had approved files for Twinamatsiko’s alleged trespassing on the 25 acres of land owned by Maj. Wanyama. However, following Twinamatsiko’s request for a review of the charges, the ODPP recalled the case files. After a comprehensive review of the four case files, DPP Jane Frances Abodo gave her approval for the prosecution to proceed with the case through a letter dated July 10.
The charges were authorized based on a statutory declaration made by Joyce Lutaya, the attorney appointed by Tyaba, the landowner. Lutaya, in a declaration sworn before Commissioner of Oaths Peter Mulanghi on December 22, 2022, asserted that she had sold the land in question to Wanyama and not Twinamatsiko.
Twinamatsiko, however, maintained that he had paid a sum of Shs70 million for the land. Despite the disputed ownership of the 25-acre land, Twinamatsiko acknowledged that Lutaya had refunded the Shs70 million. He argued that it was unfair for the vendor to sell the land to another person after he had committed to the purchase.