The Land Commission of Inquiry into land matters has learnt that a Kampala businessman paid a paltry Shs 2.3m to buy a prime government property in Jinja town.
The commission led by Lady Justice Bamugemereire is investigating the manner in which plot 60/62 along Alidna road in Jinja was disposed off before demolishing the building and occupants evicted.
On Wednesday, Simpson Birungi, the Managing Director of Birus propeties Limited, the company that fraudulently got the property, told the commission that he was approached by a group of brokers who wanted to sell a plot of land in Jinja.
“They told me the plot also had an old building and that I could acquire it at a low price,”Birungi , who is the managing director of the company that manufactures Movit Products, told the commission.
The Bamugemereire commission was surprised when the businessman told them that he bought it for peanuts.
“I paid Shs.2.3 million to buy the property whereas I gave the brokers shs70 million for the work. I got a 5-year lease starting in July 2011.”
Initially, Uganda Land Commission had got a 99 year lease from 1963 to 2062.
The commission however informed the businessman that he had got a fake land title since no lease could be given to him before the one for the Uganda Land Commission could expire.
He was also accused of conniving with officials from the Ministry of Lands and Trade to give him a go ahead to take the property yet the ministry had no authority over the same.
The commission also blamed the businessman for using money to bribe and influence government officials into doing wrong things that caused financial loss to government.
On tenants, he was blasted for not consulting whether the building had people who occupied it before demolishing it.
“You caused misery to their lives by bringing their businesses down. You are heartless,” Bamugemereire accused him.
Earlier, a senior Under Secretary in the then Ministry of Trade and Indistry Olauna Olum had been tasked to explain why he authored a letter that gave Birus properties limited a green light to take over government property .
He told the commission that on 12 May 2011, he was tasked to go to Jinja where he inspected the plot in question that a developer wanted to take over.
“I arrived in Jinja at around 6:30pm and inspected the plot,” Olum told the commission.
He said he later returned to Kampala and on advice of the then minister for Trade and industry, Maj.Gen. Kahinda Otafiire, he wrote a letter allowing the developer to take over the land.
“I issued a letter of no objection a day after visiting the place at night.”
Olum was however accused of having interest in the matter by including in the letter that the sitting tenants had not shown interest in the property yet he had not consulted them during his inspection in Jinja.
He however said he acted on pressure from the then minister Kahinda Otafiire and the developer.