Friday December 28 2012

The cases that rocked the dock

Ministers Rukutana, Nasasira, and Kutesa chat with their lawyers

Ministers Rukutana, Nasasira, and Kutesa chat with their lawyers at the Anti-Corruption Court in Kampala this year. The trio was acquitted of charges of causing the government a financial loss of Shs14 billion in the run-up to the 2007 Chogm.  


During the process of dispensing justice in 2012, the courts witnessed more cases of corruption involving prominent persons among others.

The Anti-Corruption Court dismissed charges of abuse of office and causing financial loss of Shs14 billion ahead of the 2007 Chogm summit against three Cabinet ministers; Sam Kutesa (Foreign Affairs), John Nasasira (then General Duties OPM), and Mwesigwa Rukutana (State for Labour).
The trial Judge, in acquitting and discharging the trio, cited failure by the State to bring sufficient evidence to warrant them to defend themselves.

The IGG had earlier indicted the ministers.
The ministers, who denied any wrongdoing, had been accused of deciding that the government would fully fund the construction of drive ways, parking areas and marina at Speke Resort Munyonyo at Shs14 billion.
Eleven witnesses testified in the case.

Gavi fund
The court also acquitted two former health ministers, Maj. Gen. (rtd) Jim Muhwezi and Dr Alex Kamugisha, who were accused of mismanaging Shs1.6 billion meant for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), citing lack of evidence. The court is yet to determine the fate of Capt. Mike Mukula, the third accused person in the case that has lasted for seven years.

Capt. Mukula, who was expected to explain the whereabouts of Shs210 million, said he paid the money to Janet Museveni’s team. Court set January 2013 for judgment.

In another acquittal, two senior Daily Monitor editors (Daniel Kalinaki- Managing Editor and Henry Ochieng- Political Editor) began the year in good spirits after Makindye Chief Magistrate Court in February, acquitted and discharged them of charges of forgery.

The duo had been accused of forging President Museveni’s letter on Banyoro/Bafuruki land question.

Mr Ochieng also celebrated when he was acquitted of another case of criminal libel he jointly faced with Angelo Izama, a journalist.

Among the convictions, the Anti-Corruption Court convicted former city socialite Shanita Namuyimbwa alias Bad Black and sentenced her to four years in prison for embezzling Shs11 billion from a real estate company (Daveshan Company).

The same court also convicted her co- accused, Meddie Ssentongo, of conspiracy to defraud Daveshan Company and sentenced him to 18 months in jail. However, Ms Namuyimbwa has since appealed against the punishment and was granted bail.

Two accomplices in the murder of 18-month-old toddler Kham Kakama; Mellon Nabaasa and Brian Sajjabi were convicted of child kidnap and murder cases and sentenced to 50 years in jail by the High Court in Nakawa.
The third convict, Gordon Tumusiime, was earlier sentenced to 30 years after he pleaded guilty to similar charges.

Kampala High Court quashed a three-year jail sentence against Chinese businesswoman Yuping Zhang, who was convicted following a commercial dispute with Fang Fang Group proprietor Ms Fang Min.

She had been convicted by Buganda Road Court in 2011 for issuing three false cheques to Ms Fang Min but the punishment was overturned.

KCCA struggles
KCCA Executive Director Jennifer Musisi Semakula triumphed over Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago in a case of power struggle.

Mr Lukwago had accused her of passing off as the head of the authority and referring to his office as ceremonial.

The more than 20-year management monopoly of commuter transport in the city early this year by Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers Association (Utoda), came to an end following a court order.

In his ruling, Justice Eldad Mwangusya held that the application by Utoda, among others, included contractual rights that his court had no powers to investigate.

Following the court ruling, KCCA took over the management of the taxi transport and according to Ms Musisi, they have in the shortest time possible recovered a lot of money.

On November 9, a former Kampala International University student Jane Ndichu was convicted and sentenced to nine years in jail over manslaughter in connection with the death of her boyfriend, David Musunga, in 2010.

In the Highest Appellate Court, it emerged that Alcon International Ltd, incorporated in Uganda, is not the company with whom NSSF signed the contract for the construction of Workers’ House.

The court yet to deliver its verdict, heard that NSSF signed the contract with Alcon International, incorporated in Kenya and not the Ugandan firm, a case that seeks to overturn the pending $8.9 million suit, with 6 per cent interest, was awarded through arbitration and was sustained by both the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Among the cases pending are fraud charges against interdicted principal accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mr Geoffrey Kazinda.

Mr Kazinda is facing 28 fraud charges in connection with the misappropriation of Shs316 million meant for procurement of fuel to deliver relief food to disaster affected areas.

Other OPM officials charged along with Kazinda are Mr John Owor, Ms Beatrice Kezabu, the assistant resettlement officer, and Mr Hussein Katumwa, a station manager of Total Ntinda.

In another case, Mr Were Naphtal, a former employee of MTN, privately lodged a complaint against the telecom company, accusing it of evading taxes.

In the complaint now taken over by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, MTN’s top managers, including board chairman Charles Mbiire and the overall MTN president, Mr Sifiso Dabengwa, based in South Africa, are accused of being involved in a complex web of tax evasion.
The case returns to court in February.

Compiled by Ephraim Kasozi, Anthony Wesaka & Juliet Kigonogo