The events of the morning of November 10, 2009, at Lydia Draru Atim’s house can best be described as a case of domestic violence.
Neighbours first heard some strange noise coming from Ms Draru’s house although the cause of misunderstanding was not clear. They later heard a male voice calling for help before it suddenly went mute.
Maj Gen James Kazini, 52, had been hit with a metal pipe on the head and collapsed dead in the doorway. After realising the enormity of her act, a confused 28-year-old Draru dashed out of the house, wailing: “I have killed him! I have killed him! I have killed Kazini, call the police!”
Boda boda riders at a stage outside her house in Namuwongo Project Zone in Makindye Division thought Draru had run amok while others thought she was intoxicated.
But the boda boda riders who rushed to her house were shocked to find a body of a man sprawled in Draru’s sitting room.
The boda boda riders called 999, which call was received at Central Police Station (CPS), Kampala, who in turn informed the police at Kisugu Police Post in Namuwongo. Police rushed to the scene and quickly cordoned off the house and locked the gate as an inquisitive crowd gathered outside.
At the scene, the officer in-charge of Kisugu quickly moved Ms Draru and her cousin Proscovia Tobaru, who had witnessed the scuffle, from the scene to the safety of the police post.
Inside the house, Gen Kazini’s body lay in a pool of blood with a square metal bar that Draru used for beating the dust off her carpet lying against his lifeless body. Kazini was donned in civilian clothes at the time of death.
His white Toyota Land Cruiser with South Sudanese registration number plates was parked outside Draru’s house with his pistol in the car.
A team of crime investigators from Kabalagala Police Post arrived at the scene and found it secure and embarked on combing the house for any kind of evidence that might be needed during trial.
Officers from the Military Police also arrived at the scene asking for the woman who had killed ‘Afande’ but were told she was at Kampala CPS.
“We knew they just wanted to kill her and be done with it, but we needed to know what had transpired prior to the death,” an investigator said.
As news of Kazini’s murder spread, his grief-stricken wife, Phoebe, accompanied by a relative, visited the scene of the murder.
Witnesses said she screamed upon casting sight at the cold and lifeless body of her husband drenched in blood.
Police took blood samples from the scene.
In the bedroom were two glasses presupposing that the deceased had been drinking before the fateful hour.
Police then called in analysts from the Government Analytical Laboratory in Wandegeya, Kampala.
“Kazini was a high profile person, we did not want to leave anything to chance; and since it was an army General, we did not want to be accused in future of any wrongdoing,” another investigator, who was part of the team, said.
“We drew sketch maps, how the deceased had been, took pictures. He fell backwards, facing up, in the door way and blood was coming from the left side. Police also recovered Draru’s bloodstained clothes she had stashed away in her suitcase.
After police were satisfied, they removed the body and took it to the city mortuary for a postmortem. After combing the house for anything valuable piece of evidence during the investigation, the police then locked the house.
At the time, Ms Draru had been moved from Kisugu Police Post to Kampala CPS.
At the CPS, Ms Draru narrated to the police what had happened.
She recounted that they went for an outing and returned home in the wee hours of that morning. At about 5am, Kazini left her house and went to his home in Buziga, but returned later between 6am and 6.30am and picked a quarrel.
She told police how they had domestic problems which Kazini had failed to solve.
She told police how Kazini wanted to throw her out of the house. She said she feared and was scared that Gen Kazini was going to his car to pick his pistol, prompting her to grab a metal bar to defend herself. She later used the metal pipe to hit him on the head.
“When we came back, he was drunk. He accused me of loving other men; he turned violent and he told me to give him the keys to his house so that he could lock it,” Ms Draru told police detectives at CPS.
Draru refused to hand back the keys but instead pointed Kazini to the bag containing the keys.
The two reportedly started fighting and Gen Kazini allegedly rained heavy blows on Draru.
She said at one time he even tried to strangle her. Insisting on having his keys, Ms Draru claimed she pointed to the bag containing the keys, but Kazini instead confiscated the whole hand bag and started heading for the door, ordering her to get out so that he could lock his house.
Kazini tried to grab Draru to give her another round of beating but missed her, she headed for the bathroom to hide. Inside the bathroom, Draru picked a white square metallic bar that they were using for dusting the carpet and headed back. She found the angry Kazini heading for the door with her bag.
“With full force, Draru hit Kazini from the back right above the left ear, forcing him to loose balance. She swung the second time and hit him at the same spot sending him to the ground. It’s the third metallic blow that finished him off,” the detective said.
Draru removed her bag from Kazini’s grip, ran into her bedroom and changed into another set of clothing before running out of the house to alert boda boda riders.
“Since he was too drunk, he remained helpless and the alcohol caused heavy bleeding which lead to his death,” the detective added.
Draru showed the police scratches on her neck that were left when Kazini attacked her. Later during examination, Dr Susan Nabadda of Mulago hospital found Draru with 30 finger nail scratch marks around her neck.
At the postmortem, then police pathologist, Dr Thaddeus Barungi, found that Kazini had suffered extensive skull and brain injuries as a result of trauma.
Following Draru’s confession, police took her to Buganda Road Court to record an extra-judicial statement. She told the magistrate all that had transpired at the house and how Kazini was trying to throw her out of the house together with her young cousin Taboru.
Draru stated that she had killed Kazini in self-defence.
At the city mortuary, both soldiers and Kazini’s family were demanding the body for a vigil.
However, detectives had not extracted Kazini’s nails to prove there was a fight prior to the death. Police went to the city mortuary and extracted Kazini’s nails. These nails were later examined and found to have skin particles from Draru.
In 2011, two years after her indictment, Ms Draru appeared at the High Court in Kampala to take plea through her lawyers Musa Sembatya and Annet Mutabingwa.
Then, Draru told the court presided over by Justice Monica Mugenyi that she did not intend to kill Gen Kazini and offered to plead guilty to manslaughter.
“It’s true I killed him but never intended to do so. After fighting, he (Kazini) told me that he had gone to get his gun, so I also got an iron bar and defended myself,” Draru said as she sobbed.
Although Draru was ready to plead guilty to manslaughter, the prosecution led by Fred Kakooza insisted on going for a full trial.
Mr Kakooza rejected the offer, saying he had been instructed to proceed with the trial and prosecute Draru as indicted by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Prosecution lined up four witnesses to prove a case of murder, among whom was the investigating officer, Dr Barungi, the pathologist who examined Kazini’s body, and Dr Nabadda who examined Draru at Mulago hospital.
Justice Mugenyi concurred with Mr Kakooza, saying the trial would go on as scheduled and that Draru would defend herself after prosecution had concluded its case.
In his submission, Mr Kakooza said shortly after the fight ended, Draru rushed inside the bedroom to get an iron bar. She then attacked Gen Kazini from behind as he was getting out of the house, hitting him repeatedly on the head with the iron bar.
Prosecution added that the accused was heard screaming that she had killed the General and that she should be taken to the police.
Witnesses, who rushed to the scene, saw Gen Kazini’s body lying in the doorway with blood oozing from his head.
Prosecution also said Draru was heard saying she had finished off the General. The accused said she was tired of Gen Kazini and that she had warned him that he would die at the hands of women, Kakooza said.
After killing Kazini, prosecution said Draru changed into another set of clothes and hid the ones she was wearing in a suitcase. The clothes were presented as exhibits.
Before Justice Mugenyi at the High Court in Kampala, Draru, confessed to killing Gen Kazini.
Justice Mugenyi sentenced Draru to 14 years in prison for manslaughter, a lighter case of causing death.
She said the prosecution had failed to prove the case of murder before court. “The convict appeared remorseful and pleaded guilty to the charge of manslaughter,” Justice Mugyenyi held.
When asked to say something before her sentencing, Draru asked the court to forgive her, saying she did not intend to kill the soldier. She also asked for forgiveness from Gen Kazini’s family.