Mbarara City Council and the local police are grappling with a pressing issue—the loss of a cemetery in Rwobuyenje, Kakiika ward, Mbarara City North Division to a property developer. This loss has left them with no suitable burial grounds for the deceased.
Gad Murungi, the Mbarara District Police Commander, reached out to Mbarara City Council Speaker, Bonny Karutsya Tashobya, seeking assistance with the dilemma of six bodies currently stored at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital’s morgue.
During a council meeting held at Mbarara Council Hall, Speaker Tashobya tasked Mbarara City Mayor, Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi, and his executive to clarify the situation regarding burial grounds, as it has become evident that the city is running out of cemetery land.
Mayor Kakyebezi confirmed the crisis, revealing that the council had indeed lost the cemetery land to a developer. Their legal efforts to retain the land were unsuccessful due to a lack of evidence regarding purchase agreement documents. This unfortunate outcome has left the city without a cemetery.
It was reported that Mbarara Municipal Council, before becoming a city, had acquired approximately four acres of land in Rwobuyenje cell around two decades ago. Unfortunately, the council later discovered that the relevant documents for the land were missing, fueling suspicions of misconduct among the former municipal council staff.
The land dispute over the cemetery had been ongoing with Muhammad Mwerango, who claimed ownership after allegedly purchasing the land from Simba Sabana. A recent court ruling favored Mwerango in the case.
According to Edward Kataribababo Kyombe, the LC1 chairperson for Rwobuyenje village, Mbarara City Council did not possess land in the area in question. He explained that Mwerango had obtained the land from Simba Sabana, who used it for garbage collection on behalf of Mbarara Municipality council, a fact the council attempted to exploit.
Mayor Kakyebezi informed the council that his executive was actively exploring proposals and available lands near Mbarara city that could potentially serve as an organized and fenced cemetery.
In the meantime, Councilor Muhammad Byansi, representing Mbarara South Division, and Godfrey Baryomunsi of Mbarara North Division suggested using part of the Kekombe landfill as an immediate alternative for a burial ground while a more permanent solution is sought.
In response to the situation, Speaker Tashobya issued a strict two-day ultimatum to the mayor, Town Clerk Assey Abireebe Tumwesgire, and their executive to identify an alternative land for the cemetery. He emphasized the urgency of resolving the issue, as the city’s safety and the predicament of the police dealing with bodies hung in the balance.