28 arrested as Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary land wrangle deepens
Police in Nakasongola district central Uganda are holding 28 people in connection to the reported vandalism at Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary by hired goons last week amidst the escalation of the land dispute.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority-UWA has already started plans to relocate 33 rhinos from the sanctuary and it has confirmed having tightened security at the sanctuary since Friday, April 16,2021.
According to the Savannah region police spokesperson Isah Ssemwogerere, suspects pretended to be tourists to gain access to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary where they broke into offices and vandalized property using hammers and axes which has increased tension since last Friday.
They destroyed office equipment such as computers and furniture worth millions of Shillings. According to Ssemwogerere, police swung in action swiftly and managed to apprehend the suspects.
Preliminary investigations show that the vandals came from Kampala with a mission to destroy property because of the ongoing feud between Rhino Fund Uganda-RFU and Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches-ZRWR, the owners of the 16,000 acres of land hosting the sanctuary.
The development comes a day after Uganda Wildlife Authority [UWA] issued a statement indicating their plans to relocate 33 Rhinos from Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary because of the land dispute.
It came after Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranches-ZRWR ordered Rhino Fund Uganda, a Non-Government Organization, which has been managing the sanctuary to vacate the land.
They also ordered Uganda Wildlife Authority to relocate the rhinos. This prompted Uganda Wildlife Authority to deploy security at the sanctuary to ensure the security of the Rhinos.
Health activists under their umbrella, Uganda National Health Consumers’ Organisation, (UNHCO) have renewed the push to have the Patients’ Rights and Responsibilities Bill passed into law.
The activists now want the Ministry of Health to join them and expedite the process that has been ongoing since 2015 when a private member was granted leave to draft the Bill.
The Bill that is currently before the Parliament’s Health Committee was in 2019 introduced by Busiki County MP Paul Akamba.
The new law seeks to end detention of patients who fail to meet hospital bills, establishes a complaint and appeal mechanism, the right to informed consent, confidentiality and privacy and a right to medical information including a copy of the patient’s medical records.
Ms Mable Musinguzi, the head of advocacy at UNHCO, said the disruptions the health sector has suffered following the outbreak of Covid-19 have shown the need for the Bill.
Ms Musinguzi said many incidents where patients failed to access care during lockdown would have been avoided.