What you need to know:
- Ongwen, who has spent two months on remand, presented three sureties to secure bail on Tuesday but was sent back to prison again until February 15.
Jinja Grade One Magistrate Anxious Atumanya February 13 again remanded businessman Medadi Fredrick Ongwen to Kirinya prisons in Jinja city for intermeddling with his deceased wife’s property, contrary to the Ugandan law.
Ongwen is also charged with uttering false documents.
Tuesday afternoon was the second time the 60-year-old businessman was denied bail, having suffered similar fate under the same magistrate last Friday.
Still on Tuesday, Jinja Resident State Attorney Moses Atoe wanted Ongwen’s bail application heard in the chief magistrate’s court, but defence lawyer Daniel Mudumbusi, said the same (Grade One magistrate’s) court can hear it.
It is alleged that Ongwen married deceased banker Cissy Bazanya in 1982, but the couple never sired children.
It is further alleged that Ongwen on March 5, 1995, uttered a purported marriage certificate between him and the deceased to Patrick Balyogera, a clerk at Seventh Day Adventist Church in Jinja city and the police.
Ongwen’s woes started on December 10, 2018 when Bazanya succumbed to cardiorespiratory failure at Mild May Hospital, and the deceased’s relatives denied him as their in-law, despite presenting necessary documents certifying that he was married to their daughter for over 30 years.
His initial efforts to seek redress were quashed by Jinja High Court, which ruled on November 17, 2023 that the two were not married and ordered Ongwen to vacate properties under his custody following Bazanya’s death.
They include a commercial building on Plot 78, Main Street, a residential building on Plot 32, Mvule Crescent, both in the heart of Jinja city- and a vehicle, without authority from the Administrator General.
Other property includes a plot of land owned by the deceased in Bujawali Village, Njeru Town Council, Buikwe District.
Ongwen was subsequently arrested and charged afresh- but appealed against a High Court judgment, saying they were legally married and that he is the next of kin cited in all properties.
Ongwen, who has spent two months on remand, presented three sureties to secure bail on Tuesday but Atumanya objected and sent him back to prison again until February 15 when she will decide on bail.
Among documents presented by Ongwen in Court are a marriage certificate from Seventh Day Adventist Church in the defunct Jinja Central Division indicating May 5, 1995 as the day they legalised their marriage.
According to the marriage certificate, Ongwen was 37 years and then banker Bazanya was aged 34.
Other documents presented include Bazanya’s registration form for her national identity card, where she filled Ongwen as her husband in the “spouse column”.
State witnesses, including Justine Bazanya, a younger sister of the deceased, told court that the deceased was “a single woman throughout her life”.
“Ongwen was never married to my sister, but was her driver and was being accommodated in a boy’s quarter, and even the marriage certificate he is presenting is fake. He is not a widower, he wanted to intermeddle in my sister’s estate,’’ she told court on February 9.
Another witness, Patrick Mavanhuma Balyogera, the Church Clerk at Seventh Day Adventist Church, where the accused claims the marriage took place, said his records indicate that the alleged marriage was not entered in their registry.
“In 2019, police told me to verify whether there was marriage between the two. I checked in the records and there was nothing, although both were members of the congregation,’’ he added.
Ongwen’s would-be bridal entourage to that wedding, including his brother, Philip Oryeki (best man), alleged the wife’s sister, Alice Bazanya (matron), and Pastor Patrick Mulindwa, who is said to have presided the nuptials, all are deceased.
The accused’s sister, Betty Onyango, however, said the two started engaging in a relationship in 1982.
“Cissy (Bazanya) was working in the Bank of Uganda as a note examiner and decided to resign to do business with my brother who was a prominent businessman in Jinja,’’ she told court.
According to Onyango, the pair often traveled to Dubai and China, among other destinations, for business, and were legally married in church.
She added: “My brother asked the family of his wife to share property since the woman didn’t produce any child, but they refused because they wanted to take all the property.’’
Ongwen’s first wife died, leaving behind seven children.