KABALE – Kabale Municipality has been ordered to pay UGX150m in fines for contempt of court.
In August 2019, traders and lockup owners under Kabale Central Market Traders Association (KCTA) led by their chairperson, Simon Mashemererwa petitioned High Court to intervene in a case where Kabale Municipality demolished their market in contempt of court.
The demolition which was done on August 24, 2019, was part of the process to pave way for the planned reconstruction of a new modern market under the Markets and Agricultural Trade Improvement programme – MATIP III. The traders were ordered to relocate to Kabale Police playground in Kigongi along Kabale-Mbarara Highway and Mwanjari Cemetery in Southern Division along Kabale-Kisoro road.
In a miscellaneous application number (NO.0075/2019 and No. 0024/2018), the traders accused Kabale Municipality of defying the extension of High Court’s interim order restraining them from carrying out eviction and demolishing the market until February 11, 2020, when the main application will be heard.
The main application had been filed by Kabale Central Market Traders Association in April 2019, seeking an interim injunction halting the registration exercise by Kabale Municipal Council ahead of the planned construction of the market. The traders argued that the registration was being carried out without involving their leadership.
Despite the extension of the interim injunction, authorities led by the Municipality Town Clerk Joseph Bagonza Monday and the Mayor, Emmanuel Sentaro Byamugisha demolished the market.
In a ruling read on Thursday December 5, High Court Judge Moses Kawumi Kazibwe ruled in favour of Kabale Central Market Traders Association saying that the authorities disobeyed a lawful court order. Kazibwe also ruled that the authorities used force by instructing law enforcement officers to pluck iron sheets off lockup shops, despite a protest by the plaintiff.
Justice Kazibwe ordered Kabale Municipality to pay a fine of UGX100m to the association as general damages as well as other costs that were incurred in the application.
Kawumi also ordered Kabale municipality to pay more UGX50m for contemptuous conduct. Kawumi, however, lifted a temporary injunction and allowed Kabale Municipality authorities to start the construction of the market as the hearing of the main application continue.
Kawumi also ordered that Byamugisha and Monday be arrested and be committed to civil prison for contempt of court. He also ordered that Kabale Central Market should be placed in the hands of caretakers to manage and receive market dues.
Speaking to our reporter after the ruling, Simon Mashemererwa, the Chairperson of Kabale Central Market Traders Association said that court has considered the outcry of the traders whose ideas were ignored. Mashemererwa said that the judgment is a lesson to municipality authorities to always follow the law instead of being dictators.
The Town Clerk declined to comment on the matter, while the mayor Byamugisha said they are still analysing the judgment to see if they can appeal.
Mr. Byamugisha alleges that the market was demolished by the traders themselves and not the authorities. He added that he is happy about the lifting of a temporary injunction against the court ruling.