The courtroom at the High Court in Kampala was tense and fully-packed yesterday, with relatives and others curious to hear the verdict in the case of a man charged with murdering his wife. It was a very emotional moment, especially when a group of people walked in carrying a portrait of the victim, Christine Nyangasi Dambio (formerly known as Ziporah Mbulanyina).
In the dock was Apollo Dalton Nyangasi, who was accused of killing his wife on July 24, 2010 at their home in Kireka B Zone, Wakiso District.
Tears rolled down the cheeks of some of those present, as presiding Judge Jane Kiggundu read the judgement, convicting and sentencing Nyangasi to life imprisonment for murdering his wife and mother of their two children.
“The action of Nyangasi ending the life of a woman who was a mother to his children was a total disgrace. It shows that he has no respect for the law,” Judge Kiggundu said.
But the 47-year-old Nyangasi, a former chairperson of the Uganda Medical Workers Union, stood in the dock, smiling sheepishly through the court session, seemingly unperturbed by the life sentence he will spend in Luzira prison.
The judge said the prosecution had proved that the convict planned the murder, since he had earlier threatened to kill her, forcing her to flee their marital home.
“The convict choosing to deprive his innocent children of the love of their mother by strangling her to death shows that he has no respect for life and is a threat to the society. Therefore, this court chooses to give him a life sentence to keep him away for good.”
Speaking to the Daily Monitor after the sentencing, Ms Harriet Dambio, a sister to the victim, amid sobs, while carrying the deceased’s portrait, said she believed her soul was now at rest.
“I am satisfied with the life sentence though I came to court hoping that he was going to receive the death penalty for murdering my sister,” Ms Dambio said.
She added that it would be difficult for the children to come to terms with the fact that their father killed their mother but the relatives would always be there to comfort them.
A brother to the victim, Mr Higenyi Kemba, said Nyangasi was not remorseful, as he had never asked about how the children were doing.
“My sister got married to a devil, who only thinks about his wealth and himself. How I wish time could turn back so that I could take my sister away from the reach of this murderer,” Mr Kemba said.
Nyangasi’s troubles allegedly arose out of a misunderstanding over the control of property and the arrival of a 14-year-old daughter he had fathered out of wedlock.
Mr Kemba, who had lived with the couple for about four years, said his sister got incensed on suddenly learning of her step-daughter’s existence.
The misunderstanding was escalated after Nyangasi quit his job at Soroti hospital ostensibly to spend more time with his family, where he began collecting rent from his tenants in Kireka, something his wife used to do.
Nyangasi’s wife was 40 years old when she died.