Ms Jacqueline Uwera Nsenga, who is charged with murdering her husband, Juvenale Nsenga by running over him at their residence in Bugolobi, Kampala, in January last year, began her defence on Tuesday after the state prosecution closed its case with evidence from 13 witnesses. Daily Monitor’s Ivan Okuda was in court and brings you highlights of the court trial proceedings. Nsenga’s defence opens with her defence lawyer Nsubuga Mubiru informing court that he intends to call four witnesses.
Mubiru: My Lord, I intend to call some four witnesses, including Mr Musana, the deputy director of CID. Any of our witnesses in court please move out. But before the accused gives her evidence on oath, my lord, the defence intends to adduce evidence of how the accused and the deceased met, lived in the home from the time of marriage to the point of death. My Lord evidence shall be adduced to show the battle between the Director of Public Prosecutions and Police finally leading to the accused being charged. That is how we intend to show the innocence of the accused.
Judge: We shall record the accused as defence witness number one.
(Jacqueline Nsenga takes oath. She introduces herself as a 36-year-old woman who ran a tailoring business).
Mr Nsubuga: How did you meet the deceased?
Ms Nsenga: I met Nsenga (deceased) in Nairobi where I was living, he had come for business in 1992. I was 17-years old, we fell in love, courted for one and half years. In 1994 we married at Mbuya Catholic Church.
Mr Nsubuga: Can you describe your early marriage?
Ms Nsenga: It was wonderful, we had no secrets and went out together, we did everything together.
Mr Nsubuga: Did you have any issues (children)?
Ms Nsenga: Yes, we got our first daughter in 1996 and a son in 2001. I had him in the United States.
Mr Nsubuga: What happened when you returned from the US?
Ms Nsenga: I left for the US in June and returned in October 2001. Things had changed. Nsenga became a little secretive, he started going out alone and when I asked to accompany him, he said no. I was not working, I had children and wanted to experience that love and closeness which we enjoyed before.
Mr Nsubuga: What did you do?
Ms Nsenga: I talked to my in-laws, I talked to Innocent Bisangwa his elder brother and who was our best man. He said he would talk to him. I later spoke to my father-in-law, Mr Donato Kananura. He asked me if he was providing food, I said ‘yes’ and he told me to return home and relax.
Mr Nsubuga: Were these challenges in your relationship normal to him?
Ms Nsenga: He found them normal. As time went by Nsenga started to go out twice a week, three times a week, four times a week and before I knew it was every night.
Mr Nsubuga: Which years are we talking about?
Ms Nsenga: 2003, 2004, 2005…I talked to Innocent Bisangwa’s wife who advised me to pray about it. That is when I gave my life to Jesus Christ and we started having fellowship but things kept getting worse. One time (in 2010) he stayed out up to midday the next day. I got scared and contacted Innocent and my father-in-law whom he spoke to.
Ms Nsubuga: When did you last go for fellowship?
Ms Nsenga: A week before the accident.
Mr Nsubuga: Did you experience any domestic violence?
Ms Nsenga: Never. My husband never beat me, we never quarrelled and we discussed about any matter of disagreement.
Mr Nsubuga: Is that what your father in law would describe as challenges?
Ms Nsenga: Yes. To him this was normal. He actually once told me the story of a woman who was sent by a witchdoctor for a tail of a lion. She had to devise ways of getting it and gave the lion food which made it sleep, she caressed it and got the tail. My father-in-law said my husband was the lion and I should caress him when he comes back home and everything will stabilize.
Mr Nsubuga: Did you follow his wisdom?
Ms Nsenga: I tried but things did not improve.
Mr Nsubuga: There was a witness in court (prosecution witness and cousin to the deceased) called Roleta. At what time did you get to stay with her?
Ms Nsenga: She lived with us from 2001. One of her sisters was moving to Uganda from Canada and she (Roleta) asked me if she would join us in our home. I told her it was fine since our home was their home too. We lived together for close to a year. One evening, my husband was downstairs (the house is double storied) watching television. Roleta was clad in a see-through blouse and skimpy skirt. I saw her go down. Around the same time, one of our relatives [cousin] visited and asked her why she was dressed skimpily before Nsenga. She said he [the deceased] does not mind. My cousin slapped her.
Mr Nsubuga: What happened after?
Ms Nsenga: I started to notice change in her attitude. One time she left her phone on the table and a message came through. I checked and it read, “I don’t hate you. I am just tired. I love you.” It was from my husband.
Mr Nsubuga: Did you confront her?
Ms Nsenga: No. I talked to my husband and kept quiet and requested Roleta’s sister to take her away from our home as I was not comfortable with her there anymore. This was in 2011.
Mr Nsubuga: Roleta also told court that you uttered threats before the accident. Did you do this? Was she lying to court?
Ms Nsenga: On that she lied. I did not. I expressed my dissatisfaction with her mingling with my children and staying in our house in the presence of my husband and her sister.
Mr Nsubuga: Let us move to the day of the accident. Can you narrate to court what happened from that day’s morning to the time of the accident?
Ms Nsenga: I got up and prepared to take my son to school. We had three workers (baby sitter, cook and shamba boy). As I walked to the kitchen where my son was having breakfast, I bumped into the shamba boy who said he had lost his sister and needed his salary so he could go for burial. I told him to wait as boss (Mr Nsenga) was still asleep. I took my son to school, had a lunch appointment with my cousin and rushed to pick him from school. When I returned, my husband was having his late lunch, I told him about the shamba boy’s request and he gave me money which I passed to the shamba boy.
Mr Nsubuga: But court was told that there was no communication between you and your husband. That the marriage had broken to that extent.
Ms Nsenga: That is a total lie.
Mr Nsubuga: How did you have meals?
Ms Nsenga: We had meals together whenever both of us were at home and I did serve my husband food.
Mr Nsubuga: Court was also told that you had actually separated bedrooms.
Nsenga: Another lie. Nsenga only slept in the guest room when he returned home very drunk but when that was not the case, we shared a bedroom.
Mr Nsubuga: Okay, so what happened after he gave you the shamba boy’s salary?
Ms Nsenga: I reminded him about the visitation day of our daughter who was studying in Nairobi. We visited in turns. I actually told him he should visit her with his brother, Innocent who also had a child there. I then asked to leave as I had three meetings. One was fellowship, plus a business and wedding meeting where I was the treasurer.
Mr Nsubuga: What did you eat during those meetings?
Ms Nsenga: I took some water and biscuits.
Mr Nsubuga: And some liquour?
Ms Nsenga: No. I do not take booze.
Mr Nsubuga: Apart from fellowships, did you go out in the night?
Ms Nsenga: No.
Mr Nsubuga: Can you tell court what time you got home?
Ms Nsenga: The last meeting (at Nakumatt) ended at around 9pm so I got home at around 9:20pm.
Mr Nsubuga: Did you speak to the deceased between the time you left him at home and 9:20pm?
Ms Nsenga: No.
Mr Nsubuga: So what happened after?
Ms Nsenga: Usually, when my husband and I were returning home, we would call the shamba boy, he switches off the phone to alert one that he is coming to open. Now that he had gone for burial, I knew it was the two girls to open for me.
Mr Nsubuga: Which girls are these?
Ms Nsenga: The baby sitter and cook.
Mr Nsubuga: Please proceed.
Ms Nsenga: I did not expect Nsenga at home since he even used to go out without telling me where he was going. So I got out, pressed the bell twice (at the gate) and went back to the car, sat and waited for two minutes. No one came to open. I went back, pressed the bell and before I could press it again, I saw movement of the gate and dashed to the car. I had left the door open. I put the left leg in, reached for the door and as I was going to close the door, the car jerked and I reached for the steering.
Mr Nsubuga: That is very important….
Ms Nsenga: The car took off so fast, I was fighting with the steering, trying to take the car to the right direction because whoever was opening the gate opened one leaf first so they were now opening the left leaf which was on my right and that is why I struggled to take the car there.
Mr Nsubuga: Please proceed
Ms Nsenga: In that panic I drove to the right, since the lights were on, all I could see was green with white spots (colour of gate). (She breaks down, wipes tears as prison warder gives her water). I don’t know how I got inside, I cannot tell what happened in that panic (breaks down again? I heard a groan and knew I had knocked one of the guards. Usually when my husband was at home, he would be in the TV room and light would be on. When I saw this light, I ran towards the TV room, calling, “Nsenga, Nsenga, Nsenga, help me!” The groaning got louder and hoarse, I still did not know who was on the ground so I walked to the car to see who exactly I had knocked. It was him (breaks down again). I called the two girls to come and help me carry him to the car and also dashed to the neighbour’s. The guard came and later another man from the neighbour’s joined us.
Mr Nsubuga: What was he saying as this happened?
Ms Nsenga: He was giving us directions on how to put him in the car while I cleared the back seat. I kept telling him “I am sorry sweetheart, I am sorry” as I drove him to Paragon Hospital.
Mr Nsubuga: Please go ahead
Ms Nsenga: I reached the hospital and started screaming for help, a bed was brought and he was taken to the Emergency Room. My cousin Angella Kayihura came and other relatives joined in. I also called Innocent (Bisangwa) who told me to calm down.
Mr Nsubuga: What was his condition at this time?
Ms Nsenga: His left leg was fractured and the arm too, I got to know when he asked me to remove the phone from his pocket and asked me to go slow while removing it. My father-in-law too came, the nurses had dressed the wounds and were joined by a doctor. He tried to ease himself at one point but failed and a catheter was brought in but only blood came. He was in extreme pain. One of the cousins suggested that we transfer him to another hospital for better attention but Mr Kananura said he was now out of danger. I remember he got a call from his wife in the US and told her, “he is okay, he only has fractures but in a month or so he will be fine.” He (Kananura) asked us to go home, sleep and return the next day but I declined to leave my husband in hospital.
As time went on, he had to be tied to the bed as he kept kicking and a nurse pressed his chest. He was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and I started screaming for oxygen. At the ICU, I saw through the glass at the door the nurse continuously pressing his chest. I was later called to the reception by a male nurse who broke the bad news. Nsenga had died. He was taken to the mortuary.
Mr Nsubuga: At the time you were going to the car, could you see who was coming to open? What happened after his death?
Nsenga: Several calls were made and at this time, people stopped talking to me. Innocent called me and asked to know what happened, I explained to him and he understood as he even visited the gate. My father in law too asked to talk to me and he expressed his bitterness with me not visiting him while he was sick and I apologized for that. At home, he gave a speech and asked all people and the media to stop judging me and blaming me. He advised the mourners to leave everything to God because at the accident scene, only me, Nsenga and God saw what happened. That is when people started talking to me. He repeated the same at the burial and requiem mass.
Mr Nsubuga: Tell court about life after the funeral…
Ms Nsenga: We went for burial on different planes and when we returned to Uganda, I moved to an apartment with my children as police had cordoned off the house. Innocent gave me one-month rent for the apartment. While there, my father in-law came with his family lawyer, Mr Sam Bitangaro and asked me to sign four documents. He assured me everything was fine and if I needed anything I would talk to him. I signed and they did not leave me with a copy. My sister Shantal Karungi was present. He said he did not want his sons to fight over the property as he did not trust any of them to run Nsenga’s businesses. My father in law made a statement, saying that, “it is amazing how people accuse you of killing your husband. How would you do that unless you wanted to die!”
After two weeks, we returned to my house and I got a call from Faustin, a brother in Kigali who told me to be careful as Joseph Kananura had gone out drinking and told people he would kill me. He even posted on his facebook page, “I will kill her.” I knew Joseph had a gun and he had used it before. Faustin asked me to increase the number of guards but I sought police protection. Police preferred to protect me at Kireka [police base] rather than stay at home.
Mr Nsubuga: What was your status at Kireka? Were you under detention or protection?
Ms Nsenga: I was under police protection.
Mr Nsubuga: Were any charges preferred against you by police?
Ms Nsenga: No!
Mr Nsubuga: Are there any developments in Kireka of interest to this case?
Ms Nsenga: While there, I saw an advert in Daily Monitor of March 23, 2013 by Mr Kananura seeking letters of administration of Nsenga’s estate. I was advised to get a lawyer and a friend got Mr Mac Dusman Kabega who helped process the caveat on the property. The matter ended in the family court which gave us one month to agree on how to manage the estate. But after a month, Mr Kananura told court he could manage the estate alone and that I had a case to answer. I didn’t know which case. I returned to Kireka and my lawyer told me my in-laws now wanted me to drop the caveat on the property or else they bring up murder charges against me.
Mr Nsubuga: You mean they wanted you to exchange the property with the charges?
Ms Nsenga: Yes
Mr Nsubuga: Can you estimate this estate?
Ms Nsenga: It is not small. Nsenga had a fleet of over 80 trucks, several houses, land in Nalukolongo and several other businesses. We had several cars like BMW, Mazda, a van. It is about Shs50 billion.
Mr Nsubuga: When were you first charged?
Nsenga: In July. My lawyer and another relative came and told me my relatives wanted me to drop the caveat and they stop pushing for the charges. I declined and asked them to tell my in-laws to at least have separate shares for my children which they (in-laws) still refused.
I was produced in court on July 15 and remanded to Luzira. I was shocked to read in the papers people accusing me of killing my husband, including my relatives who understood that it was an accident.
Mr Nsubuga: Was the accident intentional?
Ms Nsenga: No, it was not. I explained to my in-laws and they all understood it.
Mr Nsubuga: That is all, my lord.
Judge: Prosecution, any cross-examination?
Ms Susan Okalany (for prosecution). My lord, several new issues have come up in her defence and we seek an adjournment to tomorrow at 9am so that we can prepare for our cross-examination.
(The trial judge Duncan Gaswaga adjourns the case to 9am today for cross-examination of the accused)