The Deputy Resident District Commissioner Entebbe, Jacqueline Kankunda, has halted the relocation of five graves from Katabi Town Council to Kasanje Town Council, Wakiso district.
This stems from a request by Harriet Namubiru to exhume and relocate the graves of her father (Alimansi Kasozi, paternal aunt Maria Kizza and siblings Alex Kizito, Naluyima, and Elizabeth Namutebi.
Namubiru, aged over 80 years, told the leaders of Nkumba Central Cell and Nkumba ward that she needs to exhume the bodies and rebury them on a piece of land she recently bought in Buwaya, Kasanje Town Council. Namubiru inherited 5 acres including the burial grounds from her father in Nkumba and has over the years sold portions of this land.
Kankunda says she will meet the family over the matter since she has already recommended the relocation of the graves.
Peter Mponye, the Chairperson Nkumba Central Cell, says that Namubiru wants to relocate the graves because of limited space in the current burial grounds resulting from the high rates of development.
“We recommended the relocation of these graves because Namubiru wants to be buried near her relatives. This will not be possible in the current place so she wants to take the dead bodies to Buwaya where she bought 58 feet by 30 feet piece of land. The land in Nkumba is 22 feet by 19 feet, which is not enough for another grave,” Mponye told our reporter on Sunday.
However, some family members led by James Ssekidde are protesting the relocation of the graves. Ssekidde says Namubiru wants to relocate the graves and thereafter sell the land without consent from the rest of the family.
Last Tuesday, Ssekidde rushed to the burial grounds, saying he had been tipped by a concerned neighbor that the Deputy RDC had given Namubiru permission to relocate the graves.
He noted that he found strangers digging up three of the graves around 11 pm on Tuesday.
“Chairman Mponye had deployed soldiers to oversee the exercise. But I asked them to stop exhuming the bodies because we need a family meeting over this matter. If we can’t agree, then Namubiru should let us rebury our parents elsewhere,” Ssekidde told journalists.
Ssekidde says he has petitioned the police officers, intelligence security officers, and the deputy RDC’s office in vain.
Kankunda says she recommended the relocation based on the decisions of the local leaders and Katabi Town Council. She wonders why Ssekidde and the other dissenting family members did not petition her office or local leaders when Wilson Mwesige Mubiru on behalf of the Town Clerk of Katabi Town Council made a recommendation for exhuming the graves in July.
Lawyers Humphrey Tumwesigye of Mab Advocates and Henry Byansi, who deal in family matters, say that the deputy RDC is assuming the court’s powers to permit exhumation.
Tumwesigye says It is only the court that has the power to issue orders to exhume the dead. The Deputy RDC may have been doing it but that doesn’t give her the powers to give such orders.”
Byansi says that Kankunda should not usurp the court’s powers, especially in this case where there is a disagreement among family members.
Section 120 of the Penal Code Act, 1950 prohibits trespassing on burial places and is regarded as “disturbing the peace of the dead”. Byansi says it is therefore criminal to dig up graves without permission and whoever is found guilty can be fined or imprisoned up to three years.
Byansi says the RDC and the local leaders should have encouraged Namubiru to get consent from the affected family members before approaching them for recommendations to exhume and relocate the graves.