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Tycoon Kiwanuka upcoming court case: Was Beatrice Kavuma rant aimed at pre-empting outcome?

• Battle over Nakasero, Kololo properties held by Ssebuliba hots up
•Tycoon Ssebuliba made Sh6 billion from property
•Mohan Kiwanuka unfazed by rant, upbeat ahead of court case

By Nasser Kasozi

While city tycoon Mohan Musisi Kiwanuka ponders the outcome from yet another case filed against him by his obstinate son, Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka, his first wife, Ms Beatrice Kavuma, has issued a statement that underlines the hardline stance taken against a beleaguered man, in many respects disregarding a recent court ruling.  

The High Court, Land Division, sitting in Kampala, will this Thursday October 24, 2019 go into session in a bid to bring closure to a dispute between Mohan Kiwanuka and his son, Jordan Ssebuliba. In the Civil Suit: HCCS No. 535 of 2019; Jordan Ssebuliba Kiwanuka & Lowerhill Management Limited vs Visa Investments Limited and Mohan Musisi Kiwanuka, Sebuliba, his company, Lowerhill Management Limited and his mother Ms Beatrice Kavuma, jointly sued Mohan Kiwanuka and his Company, Visa Investments Limited.

The Plaintiffs run to court to forestall the impending eviction of Jordan Sebuliba from properties: Plot 10A and 10B Akii Bua Road and Plot 21-29, Golf Course Road, Kololo, in Kampala, that he irregularly occupied and but are owned by Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka’s Visa Investments Limited.

The plaintiffs want court to keep them on the property, but in the alternative, they have prayed that court awards them Sh1 billion in compensation for the claimed upgrade, renovations and changes they made to the properties, even when they didn’t seek consent from the property owner to do so at the time.

And while the foregoing could be a clear admission that the suit properties don’t belong to the plaintiffs, a rejoinder to counter the claim, reveals that during the 10 years that Jordan Sebuliba and group occupied the properties, they were earning, on average, Sh600million a year, totaling Sh6 billion. That makes Jordan Ssebuliba a tycoon by Kampala Standards.

If that money was to be distributed among the 6 members in the Beatrice Kavuma family, every member would walk home with Sh100 million a year, or Sh8.3 million per month, which could sustain a family of five, per month, in relative comfort. But no one is sure whether Jordan Sebuliba shared the proceeds equally with the rest.

Visa Investments limited, the owners of the properties, want vacant possession of their properties without any further delay. Mohan Kiwanuka has been sued despite that fact that the suit properties aren’t registered in his name.

Only last weekend, the country was treated to an emotion-laden missive from Ms Beatrice Kavuma, containing a number of hair-raising revelations and, ordinarily, “no-go” areas, given the recent court ruling on the same.

Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka is reported to be upbeat and has brushed aside the missive, instead, he is looking forward to victory in the upcoming court hearing.

But how does the missive measure up to the issues at hand?

FACT CHECKER

African News Journal’s Fact check desk takes you on a run-through of claims and allegations from both sides to ensure informed knowledge by the public.

Is the court suit about securing matrimonial property as averred by the plaintiffs?

This question has two issues rolled into one.

Issue one, is that, is there a marriage to talk about? While Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka was known to have lived and sired 5 children with his first wife, Ms. Beatrice Kavuma, their relationship is said to have been cemented into marriage through the Kiganda “kwanjula,” or customary marriage.

However, court is likely going to demand evidence that the two were married, the duration of marriage and what both the plaintiff and defendant consider matrimonial property.

The relationship between the two is important in determining whether Ms Beatrice Kavuma has a right to describe four properties subject of the court suit as “matrimonial property”.  

Issue two; what’s matrimonial property in the context of the case? African News Journal has it on good authority that the property on which Ms Beatrice Kavuma lives: Plot 22A Kawalya Kaggwa Close, Kampala, has never been a subject of an eviction notice. However, when Jordan Sebuliba received an eviction notice, he run to his mother, and together with some of his siblings, they took on Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka.

Yet, only months earlier, when he was still Company Secretary at Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka’s companies, Sebuliba was aware that both properties housing his Law firm, Aegis Advocates as well as his business, at Golf Course, Kololo, were legally registered under Visa Investments Limited. During that time, he never contested the ownership of the property.

Its pertinent to note that Matrimonial property in Uganda has not yet been clearly defined either by statutory law or case law. However, courts have provided a starting point for determination of what constitutes matrimonial property. In the case of Muwanga v Kintu (1997), it was noted that: “…matrimonial property’ to which each spouse should be entitled is that property which the parties chose to call home and which they jointly contribute to.”

This could already provoke a smile from Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka, particularly with respect to properties owned by Visa Investments Limited that Sebuliba has been occupying. These have been lumped together with others over which Mr. Kiwanuka hasn’t laid any claim, and collectively described as “matrimonial property.”

Jordan not interested in grabbing property; eviction order started around April 2019!?

This matter, too, has two issues intertwined!

Was it about the son protecting father, or son eyeing material inheritance? African News Journal has learnt that while the eviction notice served on Sebuliba related to the Akii bua Road and Golf Course Road properties, could have been the only notice in writing, Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka had earlier verbally and politely told Jordan Sebuliba to vacate the properties on several occasions of the 10 years of his occupancy. And It had nothing to do with the properties at Bwerenga and Kawalya Kaggwa Close, where Ms Beatrice Kavuma lives.

Falsehood, Myth or both? In her widely publicized missive last week, Ms Beatrice Kavuma wrote: “I must emphasise that Jordan never went to court to grab his Father’s property, as has been portrayed by my co-wife.

He actually went to court very reluctantly and was only driven by the need to protect his Father, me and my 5 children born with Mwaami Kiwanuka, especially after we came into the possession of the medical reports that were included in the suit.”

Fact: Sebuliba unequivocally stated in his application vide High Court Miscellaneous Application 249 2019: Jordan Sebuliba Vs Mohan Kiwanuka, that: “That it is just and equitable that the court adjudges the respondent [Mohan Kiwanuka] as a person of unsound mind so that his estate can be placed under proper management and that I be appointed manager for the purpose.”

Wasn’t court unequivocal and audible on the issue of alleged mental infirmity?

In the missive, Ms Beatrice Kavuma brings up the allegation of mental infirmity: “It is important to note that the medical examination was done in the presence of my co-wife, Maria and she has been aware of the extent of the condition all this time, and only decided to strike in April 2019, probably on the realisation of our Husband’s rapid decline. His illness is becoming an open secret in this town, and all who know him well, know or suspect that something is amiss.”

Court position: Compare the above to the ruling by Justice Musa Ssekaana: “The court summoned the respondent [Mohan Kiwanuka] to appear before it in order to carry out any enquiry envisaged under the Mental Treatment Act. The court interviewed the applicant for over 30 minutes in presence of the lawyers and thereafter for about 15 minutes without the lawyers.

From the interview, the court did not find any noticeable mental problem with the respondent. He spoke calmly especially about the dispute between himself and the applicant and at times he would make some little jokes. It is my settled opinion that the respondent is still in charge of his mental faculties and his only problem with the applicant according to him is that he wants to take over or grab his property which he has worked hard to earn over the years.”

With the above observation among others, court dismissed the application by Jordan Sebuliba that would have resulted in court compelling Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka to undergo a mandatory mental examination. And if the other prayers were answered in the affirmative, management of Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka’s vast estate would by now be firmly in the hands of Jordan Sebuliba.

Hell hath no fury….

During a televised interview at the height of the court hearing over allegations of mental infirmity, Mr. Mohan denied having two wives and stated he only had one wife; Mrs. Maria Kiwanuka. A certificate confirming their marriage went into circulation, and the matter appeared settled.

However, from events of last week, matters didn’t go down well with Ms Beatrice Kavuma. Hints of anger arising from rejection could be discerned from her missive of last week: “It is important to note that my children and I have not had access to Mwaami Kiwanuka since about April 2019, and in my case, a little longer than that.”

Nevertheless, anyone who wants to know the duration of inaccessibility to Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka by Ms Beatrice Kavuma could look at the plaint in the civil suit coming up for hearing on Thursday. It is stated in the plaint: “The 2nd Defendant (Mohan Kiwanuka) commenced construction of their matrimonial / residential property in 1982 comprised in plot 22A Kawalya Kaggwa Close, FRV KCCA Volume 371 Folio 17 completing the same sometime in early 1989 and lived thereat together with the 3rd Plaintiff (Jordan Sebuliba) and subsequently he moved on to cohabit with another woman. The 3rd plaintiff has lived in her matrimonial home uninterrupted with her children in the suit premises since 1989 to date.”

A source close to the family states that photographs circulated together with the statement by Ms Beatrice Kavuma were taken overseas during the wedding of their daughter. The source contends that Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka is such a gentleman, that he could relate with the mother of his children freely and take photographs since they are not enemies. The source challenged anyone who could produce recent pictures of Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka at the home of Ms Beatrice Kavuma to prove that he is polygamous and has two wives.

At stake…

The Beatrice Kavuma missive has caused consternation about matters pertaining to court rulings, after the matter of Mr. Mohan Kiwanuka’s alleged mental infirmity was brought up again, despite a court ruling that found him fit and able to manage his estate.

But most significantly, the justice, law and order world is set to immensely benefit from the ruling, for, it would expand on the law and practice, pertaining to matrimony, matrimonial property and how do deal with disputes arising there from.

In the meantime, many close to the family now wish matters could be settled out of court for the sake of ensuring that family dignity and unity are not undermined, in the event of a ruling that could further deepen the existing fissures. 

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