KAMPALA – Artisan miners from Mubende district have accused Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) of forcefully destroying their assets and looting when they carried out eviction of illegal miners recently.
Led by their chairperson John Bosco Bukya, the miners made the confession while appearing before the Parliamentary Natural Resources Committee to defend their petition against eviction from their mining areas that happened in August 2017.
Jacob Mutabazi Tusubira who is one of the victims of the UPDF officers during their eviction, said that his land was taken, lodges and houses were demolished and some occupied by the army. He stated that the mineral policy commandant Jessica Kiyigomba at first wanted to negotiate for the renting of his houses and lodges but she chased him later without pay.
The alleged brutality by the army officers deployed in the mining areas in Mubende was also witnessed by Micheal Bukenya (Bukuya County) who told fellow legislators that when he went to these mining areas as the area Member of Parliament, to assess the situation he was roughed up to the point of almost being beaten up accusing him of not alerting them about his visit to the place.
He said that military and police officers deployed in these mining areas have no limit of what they are supposed to do.
The Artisan miners in Mubende in a statement read before the committee by their Secretary General Emmanuel Kibirige demanded for the investor to surrender at least 1square kilometer of the land out of 144 square kilometers the company owns in the Artisan miners’ area of operation.
Artisanal miners from Mubende District are seeking compensation for alleged torture, theft and extortion during an eviction which was effected two years ago. Miners were evicted from Bukuya Sub-County and fields were taken over by an investor, Gemstones International.