RUSIZI—Residents of Katabuvuga village, Gakoni Cell, Muganza Sector in Rusizi district, have been caught up in a land dispute with a Catholic priest.
The row started last week when priest Obald Mugirangoga of Muganza Parish, told the residents to vacate a piece of land on which 16 families are settled in Katabuvuga. The Priest claims the land belongs to the Catholic Church.
Mugirangoga reportedly said the church wants to construct a parish on the land and gave the affected families an ultimatum to leave within two weeks.
On Monday, August 18, the affected residents stormed Muganza Sector seeking intervention of the local leaders.
Speaking to The New Times at Muganza sector offices later in the day, the affected families, of mainly vulnerable genocide survivors, said they acquired the land from the former Bugarama Commune in 1995 and wonder how Priest Mugirangabo claims its ownership.
One of the residents, Aloys Ukurikiyimfura, a genocide survivor said, “Priest Mugirangoga is seeking to evict us … we are determined not to leave the place unless the government intervenes because, we are all vulnerable and we have no where to go.”
Another resident, Claudine Mukagashumba alleged that the priest last week brought a caterpillar and uprooted some of their crops including cassava, mango trees, avocado trees, and sweet potatoes without their notice.
Mukagashumba said the priest was later restrained by Muganza police authorities from destroying the crops. In the process, she said the priest threw insults at them and insisted that they would leave by all means.
The Executive Secretary of Muganza sector, Jean De Dieu Kanyarubungo said, “Yes I know about that the land conflict.
It’s true that land belongs to Muganza Catholic Church. They told us as sector officials in 2007 that they want to build a parish on that particular area and we are organising to relocate the affected residents very soon.”