The Bible says in Proverbs 19:17; “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.”
On 22 of December 2019 at around 4pm an elderly man and woman who had no money to hire a lawyer approached me in my Law Chambers at Masaka for help. The LC2 Court of Kalagala Parish in Mukungwe Subcounty, Masaka District had heard a case and in a unanimous judgement ordered for their eviction off a Kibanja at Kayunga village on which they had stayed since childhood having lawfully inherited the same on death of their parents who also lived and were burried on the same Kibanja. (See the House & Grave yard hereto attached)
The Chief Magistrate’s Court at Masaka as required by law had also okayed the eviction and demolition of the family house and the graveyard thereon. The Bailliff’s hired to do the eviction and demolition had planned to ambush the family in the wee hours of Christmas Eve implying that the family would have nowhere to shelter during the festive season. Some of the young ones who were staying in the house had been shifted elsewhere in preparation for the demolition.
As you may be aware Courts close for festive season on the 23rd of December and resume in January. So I had only one day within which to swiftly act and save the situation. The only solution available was section 40 of the Local Council Courts Act of 2006 which empowers a Chief Magistrate to stop such orders using his supervisory powers but 23rd December 2019 was the only day available to do the drafting of the relevant court documents (the Application to stay the eviction and a sworn Affidavit in proof that it is extremely necessary to say the demolition and eviction), then go to the bank to pay the court fees, file the application in court, get it allocated to the Chief Magistrate and finally have it fixed for hearing.
By Grace of God I managed to do all the above but unfortunately the application to stop the eviction and demolition was fixed on the 15th of January 2020 when court would resume busness because the Chief Magistrate was wasnt available, I was told he was on official duties in Kalangala. This meant that the eviction and demolition would go on unhindered and by the time the application comes for hearing in January the eviction and demolition would have taken place already.
In vain I struggled to reach the Chief Magistrate on phone. But some how frustrated and devastated I hung around court premises thinking of what to do next and by powers of God the Chief Magistrate surfaced late in the evening probably to pick something he had forgotten in court chambers. I approached him and used this opportunity to submit to him well grounded reasons in law why the said impending eviction/demolition is illegal and should be temporarily stopped pending the hearing of the main Application in January. In his short ruling he agreed with me and issued an order stopping the eviction/demolition (See the said Court Order attached hereto). U cant imagine the extreme, exhilarating joy I saw when the family recieved this good news. I saw serious dances of joy on the already miserable and worried faces. They had lost all the hope and had removed all the properties from the house when they heard that the Chief Magistrate was in Kalangala and would be back in January.
Colleagues lets all in our areas join the fight against illegal evictions of vulnerable Bibanja holders, this practice is not only an extreme violation of fundamental human rights enshrined in our constitution but also a sin in the eyes of God.
I wish all of you a prosperous new year.
Advocate, Commissioner for Oaths
& LC5 Chairman Masaka District.
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