Shumuk boss appeals to President Museveni seeking protection

Mukesh displays titles of Hotel Diplomate and Shumuk House during a media briefing

City businessman Shukla Mukesh has written to President Yoweri Museveni asking for protection from what he termed as investor frustration and malicious prosecution in courts of law. The Shumuk Group chief executive has been involved in a protracted fight over properties in the city with the late Bonny Katatumba and his family.

Mukesh and the Katatumbas have been battling in court over ownership of Plot 2 Colville Street (former Blacklines House and now (Shumuk House), plot 970/971 Muyenga Tank Hill (Hotel Diplomat) and Banda Island in Mbarara. In a two-page petition dated November 22, Mukesh says his $100m (sh380b) business empire is threatened by a witch-hunting scheme by his business rivals.

The presidential press secretary, Don Wanyama, said the President will respond if and when he deems necessary. Shumuk Group of Companies also issued a press release, complaining about Police’s inaction over the company’s troubles. “We have reported several complaints to the Police against Katatumba’s children, but nothing has been done.  Instead, our executive director is being arraigned in court over a matter that was long concluded in another competent court of law,” the press release reads.

Mukesh is currently in court facing trial over alleged forgery of the Chief Justice, Bart Katureebe’s signature. He is said to have used a forged document to try and evict the deceased Consular of Pakistan Islamic Republic in Uganda, Bonny Katatumba, from Hotel Diplomate in Muyenga.

His explanation of the anomaly is withheld because the case is before court. However, Saturday Vision has learnt that in 2016, Mukesh sued three traders over impersonating Katureebe and defrauding him of $125,000 (about sh419m) for the letter.

How it began

The Mukesh-Katatumba case has spanned 10 years since 2008. It is said Katatumba deposited a number of titles of the then Blacklines House in the now defunct Crane Bank for a loan. However, when he failed to clear the bank, he ran to his then friend, Mukesh, for a bailout totalling $4.63m. He also wanted money to rescue his Hotel Diplomate, which was also on the verge of being sold off and needed $1.7m which he allegedly obtained as condominium for 27 units on Blacklines House.

However, Mukesh insists he did not give Katatumba a loan.

“The understanding was that I buy the premises,” he said. “He sold me Blacklines House at $5m (sh11b), which was later revised to $4m (sh10b).

Later, he breached the sales agreement terms, failing to avail Shumuk Group with all the titles of the property after receiving a payment of $3.7m (sh9b).” In February 2015, there was drama in the city as Shumuk and Katatumba evicted each other, each claiming ownership of a property on Plot 2 Colville Street.

The five-storey building changed names from Shumuk House to Backlines House and back to Shumuk House. The drama started when Katatumba learnt that Mukesh was planning to sell the building, yet the two had not yet settled a wrangle over its ownership. Katatumba applied to the High Court to stop him from selling the property and got orders of attachment.

Lawyers representing Shumuk told court that upon obtaining orders of attachment, Katatumba used the documents to evict his business rival. Upon eviction, Mukesh ran to the Registrar Execution and Court Bailiffs Division and obtained counter orders to evict Katatumba from the building, which was promptly done the next day.

Katatumba then referred the matter to the then head of the division and now Deputy Chief Justice, Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, asking him to cancel Mukesh’s eviction orders, saying Irene Akankwasa, who issued them, had no powers to cancel her predecessor’s orders which had re-instated him into occupancy of the property because both of them were at par.

Owiny-Dollo ruled before a packed High Court that the warrant of eviction issued by Assistant Registrar Henry Twinomuwhezi to the court bailiffs against Shumuk had no basis and was illegal. He cancelled all the earlier eviction orders, including the one that was issued by Akankwasa, saying they had all been issued unlawfully. Owiny-Dollo said he would oversee the order that would be re-issued from the Commercial Court.

The High Court directed that while the building remains in the hands of Mukesh, it should not be sold off until the ownership case is disposed of. But 10 years down the road, the question of ownership is still not being answered.