KAMPALA, UGANDA: An unspecified number of civilians and three soldiers were Thursday injured after suspected encroachers on government land allegedly attacked Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) engineers renovating Mandela National Stadium, Namboole in Kira Municipality, Kampala.
According to a statement by the deputy Defence spokesperson, Col Deo Akiiki, it is alleged that at around 9am, a group armed with machetes, stones, arrows and bows under the leadership of one Godfrey Kawooya, the Vice Chairman of Kireka Zone B and another only identified as Masada of Katooke Zone allegedly attacked their engineers on duty within a confrontation that lasted three hours.
The engineers were reportedly surveying part of the land that hosts Namboole Stadium Complex in order to begin laying culverts and block manholes.
“The security detail protecting the site and workers, shot three warning shots to disperse Mr Kawooya’s gang but in vain. Chaos ensued and three of our soldiers were injured, including Pte Jackson Masereka, whose fingers were cut by panga-wielding gangs,” the deputy Defence spokesperson, Col Deo Akiiki said.
“Civilians injured are not yet established as police joins us to investigate the incidents and bring those involved to book, he added.
Government through the UPDF Engineering Brigade kicked off the renovation of the stadium last year with the construction of the perimeter wall as one of the requirements from CAF and to protect the land from encroachers.
As such, hundreds of residents of Kireka Zone B have been spending sleepless nights over their eviction with UPDF saying the residents were given a deadline of February 15, 2023, to vacate the premises.
“Notices of vacating the premises were sent out to encroachers several times by all concerned authorities and a deadline of February 15th, 2023 was given. Indeed upon expiry of these notices, a company called Flight Auctioneers was hired to forcefully evict the defiant encroachers,” Col Akiiki added in a Thursday evening statement.
“The UPDF engineers Brigade will continue to do its work and will not be deterred despite acts of provocation by errant and illegal encroachers on the property. We have beefed up security at the stadium and call upon citizens to respect public property in order to avoid injuries and loss of lives.”
Mr Kawooya recently told the media that about 550 residents were ordered to leave the premises and that their efforts to engage the stadium management on the matter were futile.
“Our case is in the high court. It is very sad that these people just came and demolished people’s houses without any warning. Many people have lost their properties in that kind of manner,” he said.
Kawooya insists that block 232 on which his local council is situated, belongs to Kabaka Ronald Mutebi’s uncle known as Kisosonkole.
In 2019, Jamil Sewanyana, the managing director of the stadium petitioned the Justice Catherine Bamugemereire-led land commission to help them evict individuals and companies that had allegedly grabbed half of the 120 acres of land belonging to Namboole.
In his petition, Sewanyana said that the Government bought 103 plots on Kyadondo Block 232 and Block 234 to build a stadium and several people were compensated but many denied that they were ever compensated.
The construction of the perimeter is still underway as part of the first phase of the stadium’s renovation. The renovation works will also cover the dressing rooms, playing surface, running track, installation of desks and air conditioners in the media and VIP sections, seats in the general public stands, and upgrading floodlights as directed by CAF.
Namboole was the home ground for the national team, the Uganda Cranes since 2002.
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