The 8-year-legal battle involving a city ‘lawyer’ Godfrey Rwalinda who had misled residents that their land had been encroached upon by city businessman Mr Ben Kavuya is coming to an end with more costs slapped against Kabula, Lyantonde residents.
This comes after a ruling about two weeks ago, where Court of Appeal Justices Christopher Madrama, Irene Mulyagonja and Cheborion Barishaki overturned a previous High Court decision that would have seen the mogul lose 714 hectares (about 400 acres) that include his upcountry home and commercial farm.
This website has exclusively learnt that after Kavuya’s victory in the Court of Appeal, his lawyers have filed for a bill of costs totaling to over Shs2.5 billion (UGX 2,503,780,535) against the party that lost the case, that is; Byaruhanga Kasirye and Godfrey Kato as the administrator of the estate of the late Bulasio Kamanzi, James Nzabamwita and James Rebero as administrators of the estate of the late Gelvas Nyiringab, Edward Rutaaba, Robert Kamunini and Yosam Mugisha as administrators of the estate of the late Samwiri Rwitirinya [all were represented by City lawyer Rwalinda Godfrey while Mr. Kavuya was represented by Hon Mwesigwa Rukutana.]
It remains to be seen how the Lyantonde residents, whose economic activity is mostly subsistence farming, will pay the 2.5 billion bill of costs.
Information obtained indicates that Mr. Kavuya had previously purchased 714 hectares in 1994 and consequently went ahead to develop it by setting up a commercial farm and an upcountry home.
However, in 2015, it is reported that city lawyer Godfrey Rwalinda Jambo of Jambo & Company Advocates, travelled to Lyantonde and convinced residents there that their land had been encroached upon by Mr Kavuya.
But when the registered owner, Mr Kavuya, was approached over the matter, he contracted a land valuer to ascertain the land ownership status.
Through his investigations and findings, the land valuer established that the title of ownership for the 714 hectares had overlapped its boundaries by 241 hectares.
Consequently, Mr Kavuya offered the overlapped land to the claimants with the developments he had undertaken on it, at no cost.
It is reported however that Rwalinda rejected the offer and opted to lay claim on the entire 714 hectares, instead of the disputed 241 hectares.
He suggested that Mr Kavuya purchases, afresh, the entire 714 hectares at the prevailing market rates, something that was not only unfair but also inconsiderate of the amicable offer he (Kavuya) had laid on table.
So, in a bid to protect his farm and country home, Mr Kavuya sought the intervention of the courts of justice.
In the case filed in 2015, as HCCS No. 77 of 2015, the High Court in Masaka ruled in favour of the claimants as mobilized by Rwalinda, and ordered the cancellation of Kavuya’s title of ownership.
Later, Mr. Kavuya appealed the High Court decision in the Court of Appeal, vide case reference – Civil Appeal No. 224 of 2021.
However, a panel of three justices from the Court of Appeal; Justices Christopher Madrama, Irene Mulyagonja and Cheborion Barishaki, in a ruling delivered this morning overturned the High Court’s decision.
In the Court of Appeal ruling, the Justices held that:
- The declarations and orders of the High Court are hereby set aside and substituted with an order that Mr Kavuya retains registration and possession of his title/land to the extent measuring 472.3 Hectares.
- The Commissioner of Land registration is directed to rectify Mr Kavuya’s title by adjusting it to remove the overlapped 242 Hectares
- The respondents (represented by the lawyer Rwalinda Jambo Godfrey) to pay the costs of the case in the High Court and Court of Appeal.
“…The appeal succeeds partially on grounds 2, 6, 7, succeeds fully on the 1, 3, 5, 8, 9 & 10 and fails on ground 4. The declarations and orders of the High Court are hereby set aside and substituted with an order that the appellant retains registration and possession of the title to the suit land to the extent only of land measuring approx. 472.272 hectares. The Commissioner Land Registration is directed to rectify the Appellant’s certificates of title by adjusting the acreage of 714 Hectares to 472.272 Hectares. The remaining land after deducting the 472.272 Hectares forms part of the estates of Tisisan Gakwerere, Samuel Rwitirinya, John Ramushasha, Paulo Babonangenda, Gelvas Nyiringabo and Claver Kagenge. The respondents shall pay % of the costs in this court and in the court below. The cross appeal is dismissed with costs to the appellant/ cross respondent,”Justice Chebroni Barishaki’s ruling reads in part.
It should be noted that Mr. Kavuya has always sought to contribute to the social and economic development of Lyantonde district through encouraging commercial farming and setting up various projects in the area.
As an expression of his generosity, in 2018, while at a function presided over by then Vice President, H.E Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi, Mr. Kavuya donated money for construction a Health Center III in Lyantondde District, to supplement the government’s efforts to improve health service delivery.
Relatedly, he built and donated another Health Centre III facility in Kebisoni, Rukungiri district in a deliberate effort to bring closer health services to people in Western Uganda.
Mr Kavuya is the Chairman of East African Medical Vitals, Africa’s first surgical and medical gloves manufacturing factory.
East African Medical Vitals is a Ugandan company that manufactures high quality, latex, powder-free medical gloves (examination and surgical), vital medical consumables in health facilities.