Major Mark Wanyama, the complainant .

I will Take Criminal Path if Court Denies Me Justice-UPDF’s Maj. Wanyama

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Major Mark Wanyama, a Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) officer, who is accusing Mukono businessman Jackson Twinamasiko of trespassing on his land, has threatened to take a criminal path if he doesn’t receive justice. He issued the threats while appearing before the Mukono Chief Magistrate, Roselyn Nsenge on Thursday. This came after Nsenge instructed Wanyama to testify with caution.

It came after Stephen Turyatunga, the lawyer representing Twinamasiko requested the court to consider a nearby date for a decision on whether to proceed with the trial or dismiss it. Turyatunga argued that his client had been notified by the Crime Investigations Department of additional charges similar to those already before the court.

He said, “Once the court insists on adjourning the matter to November, the complainant is going to keep on bringing more similar cases even before this is concluded, Your Worship I request that you consider a nearby date at least in October to have this matter decided as we wait for the High Court to give its position on the rightful owner of the contested land.”

In response, Nsenge cautioned both parties against overburdening the court with unnecessary cases and urged them to let the law take its course. “Filing separate cases on the same matter must stop. You will not achieve your goals by wasting the court’s time. Let’s file cases with substance,” she warned. This did not go down well with the complainant when asked whether he had understood the caution. Major Wanyama expressed his dissatisfaction with the caution, stating that such warnings wouldn’t deter him when his property was at stake.

He asserted, “These people think that just because we are soldiers, we should not fight for what belongs to us. I can take the same path as he did to reclaim what is rightfully mine.” The case dates back to August 1, 2023, when Twinamasiko went to the Crime Investigations Department to follow up on a complaint he had filed against Ben Mugisha, a police officer attached to the land protection desk.

He, however, found himself under arrest during this visit. While he was later granted a police bond, Twinamasiko was arrested again on August 3, 2023, on charges related to property damage, removal of boundaries, and trespassing on land claimed by Major Mark Wanyama.  The disputed land is located on Mbeya Island in Mpunge sub-county within the Mukono district. Twinamasiko was presented in the Magistrate’s Court and granted bail. Twinamasiko’s lawyer argued that the case is fundamentally civil in nature but has been inappropriately criminalized. The prosecution sought an adjournment because the complainant was absent, and they needed more time to respond to the complaint’s lawyer’s submission.

The prosecution argued that the case involves possession rather than ownership and stated that the trespass occurred on June 9, 2021, with damage to Major Wanyama’s properties. Turyatunga maintained that the soldier used military force to take over land that was previously in civilian possession, going against an interim court order obtained on November 27, 2019, and a subsequent temporary injunction issued in February 2020.

The injunction allowed the defendant to continue using the land and restricted the complainant from entering the same land. Magistrate Nsenge agreed with the defendant’s lawyer and rescheduled the matter from November 9, 2023, to an earlier date, October 16, to decide whether to drop the charges or continue with the trial.

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