Police in Masindi District are holding nine men on charges of malicious damage and criminal trespass amid the current Covid-19 lockdown.
The Albertine regional police spokesperson, Mr Julius Allan Hakiza, identifies the prime suspect as Fabian Isingoma, 54. Also, Steven Bagonza; Josephat Kiiza and Patrick Barungi are among others in police cells.
Mr Hakiza told Kazi-Njema News today at his office in Hoima that armed with bows and arrows and machetes, the suspects destroyed beans, maize and cassava gardens measuring approximately 14 acres belonging to Nicholas Kanyesige, Vincent Wamaani, Emmanuel Muhanuuzi and Sunday Mucwa.
The incident that took place on Tuesday evening last week at Kimigi Village in Kahembe Parish, Bwijanga Sub-county in Masindi District, was a case linked to a longstanding family land dispute.
The police spokesperson added that the suspects hailing from Bulindi village in the neighbouring Hoima district used machetes and a tractor to destroy the crops.
Riding on motorcycles with each carrying three people, the suspects camped at the scene of crime in the evening in preparation for the destruction the following morning.
Police have impounded the tractor which is currently parked at Bulima police station in Masindi district.
Mr Yairo Atuhura, the Kimigi LC1 Secretary for Defence, purports that he was assaulted by the aggressive suspects as he tried to intervene.
However, he later informed Bulima police that swung into action and arrested the suspects.
Part of the disputed family land has a running case at Masindi High Court where an Indian man identified as Goronia Biah accuses the now deceased Emmanuel Byaruhanga who owned the estate in dispute.
Ms Grace Nyamaizi, the head of one of the four families whose crops were destroyed is worried of her fate after her three acres of maize, beans and cassava were destroyed. She says she does not have any food for her family.
Mr Hakiza said that the police are currently hunting for the 10th suspect.
However, he said all the suspects have declined to record statements though the police are continuing with investigations into the malicious damage case.
Last week, the ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development stopped any evictions from land after it announced suspension of all its activities in the country over the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
However, there is fear that people might take advantage of the vacuum to evict the less connected and poor Ugandans if the ministry delays to reopen or fails to keep the ear to the ground.