Former workmates of the late justice Alfred Ntunduguru Karokora have described him as a judge who left the Judiciary without controversy to his name.
Aged 83, Justice Karokora breathed his last on Friday as he was taken to a nearby private clinic in Mbarara District after suffering from high blood pressure.
Former Principle Judge of the High Court Justice James Ogoola said Karokora was a judge whom the country would miss.
“We have many kinds of judges, but honourable justice Karokora was one of a kind. He was a mature judge not only biologically in age but with maturity of analysis, approach of the Bench, treating the staff well and his exceptional handling of lawyers, who appeared before him showed him as a man of cool posture,” Justice Ogoola said.
He added: “I also remember him during the referendum when the country was going under multiparty transition and we had to formulate a question for the people to quickly understand without ambiguity. A team was formed and Justice Karokora was the chair of that team. I was a member.”
Likewise, former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki, who taught the late Karokora at the Law Development Centre (LDC), described him as a distinguished colleague whom they later worked with at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and at the Supreme Court Bench.
“He was a very calm and steady gentleman. A man who rose through the ranks in the Judiciary due to his integrity. He was truly a judicial officer who was very balanced in judgements,” Justice Odoki said.
Commercial court judge Paul Gadenya, who worked with justice Karokora at the Supreme Court as one of his aides, recalls that the late jurist was fast at drafting his copies of a given judgment.
Principal Judge Yorokamu Bamwine remembers the late judge for his counselling services to judicial officers.
“He was a great mentor especially of young magistrates and judges. He recognised the fact that there are temptations in the judicial service and that to avoid them, one had to be firm and say no to those temptations,” Justice Bamwine eulogised Justice Karokora at the weekend.
The late judge will also be remembered to have been part of the Supreme Court justices, who ruled in the 2001 presidential election petition between President Museveni and Dr Kizza Besigye.
He will also be remembered for having successfully challenged the Pensions Act that used to pay pensioners their benefits up to 87 percent instead of 100 per cent.
A tentative burial programme shows that Justice Karokora will be laid to rest tomorrow in Mbarara.
Who was justice Karokora
Birth and education
He was born on November 5, 1936 in Bushenyi District.
At the time of retiring from the Judiciary at the rank of Supreme Court justice, Justice Karokora had had 43 years of service.
He initially qualified as a dispenser after offering a pharmacy course. But later in 1967, he joined Nsamizi law school for which he enrolled for a lay-magistrates diploma course.
Justice Karokora began his professional work in 1963, as a senior magistrate in the Ankole Kingdom’s chief judge’s chambers. He was later promoted to the rank of chief magistrate.
He could handle civil and criminal matters, which were
above the jurisdiction of a Grade
One Magistrate and inclusive of appeals from the magistrates.
Between 1981 and 1982, he was appointed an acting judge of the High Court and he was confirmed to the same position in 1984.
In 1996, he was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court from where he worked up to 2006 when he retired upon clocking the retirement age of 70.
At the time of his demise, he had been serving as an arbitrator with Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution.
He was also a legal consultant training judges of the government of South Sudan on the newly adopted common law legal system, with particular emphasis on human rights.