A family of 41 family members from Murongo Village in Murongo Ward, Kyerwa district, Kagera Region was rounded up by immigration officers together with local security officer (MUGAMBO) at 3.00 a.m and forced them to leave the country, alleging them to be living in the country illegally. The head of this family is called Erika, 88 years old.
This family was in the morning of 21.1.2014 evicted and damped in the NO MANS LAND area, on the bridge separating Tanzania and Uganda. The family has since been forced to camp on the bridge succumbing to rains, sun, mosquitoes, cold and worse the dangers of falling into the Kagera river beneath the bridge and to being devoured by a crocodile that is feared living in the nearby waters of the Kagera River below the bridge.
Attempt to secure their freedom is hitting a dead rock following a somewhat coordinated syndicate to evict this family by the local authorities over a revenue sharing issues over income accruing from rental of a land space onto which Vodacom and airtel have erected their telecom towers.
The story behind is that, in the recent past, a wrangle arose between Mzee Erika who owns a piece of land that was identified as a suitable spot for the erection of the telecom towers by Vodacom. The Village chairman became envious on learning that Mzee Erika was promised a regular monthly income for rental of his land for the mast. The wrangle was resolved in a regional court at Bukoba when Mr. Erika was declared rightful owner of the land and therefore legal beneficiary of the rent from Vodacom.
Later on airtel also came to invest in the area and Mzee Erika land was again seen as the best spot for the airtel telcom tower. This made the Village chairman more envious. It is told by the villages that were interviewed that, the village chairman decided to connive with other authorities including the immigration and other officers and blacklisted Mzee E\rika as a Ugandan living illegally in Tanzania. Illegal persons have no right to own property (land in Tanzania) and so with this situation, the village chairman working together with the immigration officers descended on this family and branded them illegal immigrants and so inhumanly rounded them at 3.00 a.m and have since been dumped at the bridge of Murongo.
Radio FADECO learnt of the ordeal on 25.1.2014 following a tip off by our news correspondent in the area. The report mentioned the affected family was starving and in danger since having been damped at the bridge since 21.1.2014.
A team of FADECO RADIO Staff went to the scene arriving there at 4.00 a.m on 25.1.2014 to follow up the story. On arriving at Murongo border, the family was found lying on the bridge site covered in ramshackled clothes since there were not allowed to carry any belongings. The affected include 23 males and 18 females. There are 3 primary school going children who since have been denied to go to school, 4 infants below the age of 5 and 3 babies stills suckling.
The head of the family is called Mzee Elika Tibahulira , 88 years old and has been living in the area since he was born and his wife is called Mole Tibahulira aged 58. They have their children and grandchildren together making a total of 41 persons.
As journalists, we have tried to make the preliminary investigation into the matter:
Immigration officers at Murongo border allege these are illegal immigrants, living in Tanzania since that time even before independence!! Over the revenue sharing issue they say, they are aware of it/ They say this mzee has no right to own that land.
Asked why the decided to dump these people in no-man land, they say it is up to them to find their way to where they came from.
FADECO RADIO has consulted the different government officers with no solution. The regional commissioner orderd that these people be returned to Tanzania (removed from the bridge) and taken to police and later to court which would determine their citizen staus. The district Commissioner on his part said that these people have to find their way and never to return to their homes.
26.1.2014 in the morning hours, on orders from the Regional Commissioner, the 41 people were removed by the immigration officers and taken to a nearby police post at Murongo and left there, on word that they would later be taken to court to answer charges.
By 6.00 P.M these people were still at the police station without any word from the immigration officers. Radio fadeco visited them and found they were given shelter at the police station and said, they were awaiting to be taken to court.
27.1.2014 at 5.00 p.m after 24 hours, without charges being opened against them, they were forced to go back to the immigration office by the immigration officers. On reaching the office, they were forced to leave the country, go back to the bridge they have been living since eviction on 21.1.2014.
Reports coming from witnesses at the border has told that, these people refused and as a reaction to this, they have bees subjected to thorough beating. Mzee Erika is reported in very critical condition following the beating (and several days of starvation and age|). Small children some of whom are very sick and their mothers have been severely beaten up. And their situation is at stake.
FADECO RADIO has communicated with the Regional Commissioner who has promised to take up the matter and ensure their safety and that where possible these people be brought to court of law.
These people are severely malnourished and many of them looking wearly. They have been living in the open in the cold since 21.1.2014. They are inhumanly treated. A good samaritam has offered them a plastic sheet to cover themselves. With the current rains, they are subjected to this gross torture.
Would anybody they help to take up this matter? Several issues are hidden in the whole saga. We request you to intervene and help us. As I write this, news reaching me is that, the life of Mzee Erika is at stake having succumbed to beating by the immigration officer famous as JEMBE. One of the affected persons is called George and has a telephone contact 0759 336422. The plight of this people has different dimensions and the course events seem to show some hidden things leading me to conclude that the alleged illegal residence might not be the real issue but more so revenue sharing.