UGANDA, Moroto | Real Muloodi News | Rupa sub-county community in Moroto District are loosing the fight to recover 500 acres of land, which they ignorantly gave away to a missionary to establish an orphanage.
In 2007, the missionary, Bill Behrmann, approached the elders in the Rupa sub-county and asked for land to establish a home for orphans.
Joseph Otita, one of the elders and now the Local Council III chairperson of the Rupa sub-county, says that after considering Bill’s request for the land, he was given more than 100 acres to set up a home for the orphans.
He adds that as elders, they never bothered to measure the size of the land given to the missionary, but it was just estimated to be about 100 acres. They had also promised to give the missionary more land if it wasn’t enough for the project.
However, it was revealed that the land given to Bill actually measures 500 acres. Only 127 acres were documented for a land title to which both parties acknowledged.
Bill had opened up the orphanage home in Moroto and later returned to his home country, where he died in 2018.
However, Rebekah Bullen, another missionary who inherited the orphanage home, has met resistance from the community. The community demands the reduction of the land from 500 acres to 20 acres.
The local leaders, lawyers, administrators, and new owners of the land in question recently engaged in a heated six-hour argument over the land ownership.
Peter Lote, a complainant, accused Rebekah of grabbing their land. He claims that Bill was only allocated about 20 acres of land, and he questions how Rebekah got all the other acres without the knowledge of the community.
Nevertheless, Jane Frances Itae, Rebekah’s advocate showed that the late Bill followed all the procedures for the land acquisition which were approved by the community members.
She said that the community was unaware of the measurements of the 500 acres of land before signing the documents which supported their agreement with Bill.
Cosmas Ayepa, the Secretary for Social Services Moroto District, says that the coming of Rebekah has brought to light some issues and that this is the right time to address them.
Ayepa adds that he does not blame the organisation or the community because there were no guidelines when the land title was being processed. He said that the best option is to open boundaries and make everything transparent to avoid confusion in future.
The State Attorney of Moroto district, David Andrew Magogo, notes that currently, acts of land grabbing after the owner passes away are very common. He revealed that after analysing the documents concerning the land in question, he found that the members and leaders of the Rupa sub-county had fully endorsed it.
The State Attorney told the community that it was too late to claim the land they offered fourteen years ago without being challenged.
David Koryang, the district chairperson, warned the community against selling their lands to foreigners whose intentions they cannot ascertain.
He said that there are more land conflicts to emerge because of carelessness in land sales.
He begged the clan leaders to ensure that they regulate the unnecessary sale of customary land to individuals without notice from his office.
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