Katanga killing: Widow charged, sent to Luzira

Ms Molly Katanga, the woman accused of killing Henry Katanga (inset), appears at Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court where she was formally charged with the murder of her husband, an offence that attracts up to a death penalty by hanging on conviction. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA .  

What you need to know:

  • Given her ailing health, Molly, 55, was brought in a police ambulance into the premises of the court at about 9am.

Molly Katanga, the key suspect in the killing of her late husband Henry Katanga, was yesterday wheeled into Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s  Court and formally charged with the murder of her husband.

The offence attracts a death penalty on conviction.

Given her ailing health, Molly, 55, was brought in a police ambulance into the premises of the court at about 9am.

Curious journalists who had camped at the court started taking multiple photographs.

She was assisted to alight from the ambulance before being put in a wheelchair where she was wheeled to the court holding room.

She was later wheeled into the actual courtroom where the charges were formally read to her.

Murder being a capital offence, she was not allowed to take plea.

Finally in court

Her appearance was prompted by court’s issuance of an arrest warrant order on Monday after Mr Jonathan Muwaganya from the DPP’s office, argued that Molly was not honouring several criminal summonses to appear on her own.

With her head bandaged, Molly sat through the entire morning court session in her wheelchair, not in the court dock as it is the practice.

Molly now joins four other suspects at Luzira prison over the same case, including her two daughters Patricia Kakwanza and Martha Nkwanzi, who jointly face a different charge of destroying evidence that was meant to be used in this case.

The other two suspects; George Amanyire, a house help, and Charles Otai, a medical personnel, face a separate charge of being accessories after fact of murder.

Prosecution states that on November 2, 2023, at Mbuya Chwa 2 Road, Nakawa Division, Kampala District, Molly, with malice aforethought, unlawfully caused the death of her husband Katanga.

During the court session, Molly’s lawyer, Peter Kabatsi, pleaded with the court to issue orders to prison authorities to allow continued management of her ill condition in liaison with the cooperation of the doctors who have been attending to her at IHK.

She has been at IHK since November 2 last year after she sustained grievous head injuries following the alleged domestic brawl with her late husband in their bedroom.

Further in his submissions, Mr Kabatsi informed the court presided over by Chief Magistrate Elias Kakooza that Molly has so far undergone five surgeries.

A January 3 medical report authored by five medical specialists from Mulago hospital revealed that Molly complained of severe dizziness and experienced sharp pain in her head.

“The dizziness is worsened by change of position and thus whenever she gets up, she has to move gently and needs a short period to first stabilize from lying to standing positions. She is able to sit unassisted. She has been reviewed by Ear, Nose and Throat specialists and is being managed for central vertigo. The patient also experiences sharp vertical pains in her head that are on and off. The headaches are different in nature from the ones she usually gets prior admission and can be quite severe when they come on and is receiving treatment for them. She reported that she forgets some things at times,” the report signed off by the lead neurosurgeon consultant, Dr Joel Kiryabwire, reads in part.

It adds: “A psychiatrist evaluation was conducted on November 10, 2023, and she was found awake and alert but with challenges of sleeping at night. She has pain over the ulna side of her right hand and also has numbness over the left middle fingers and pain on stretching them. She also had pain over the stamp of the amputated little finger.”

Ms Katanga is wheeled into a prisons ambulance after appearing at Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kampala yesterday.

Further in his submissions to court yesterday, Mr Kabatsi asked court to direct security personnel to leave their client’s Mbuya home on grounds that investigations are done and it is no longer a crime scene.

Weighing MacDusman Kabega, Molly’s lawyer, submitted that after the police completed their investigations, they had not surrendered the home back to his client.

Mr Muwaganya, the DPP’s representative, said he didn’t have an exact answer on whether Katanga’s home is still a crime scene or not.

He denied knowledge of which exact security agency was deployed at Katanga’s home.

As the way forward, Mr Muwaganya asked for more time to enable him to inquire from the police’s director of Criminal Intelligence Department (CID) on what exactly is at the crime scene.

“...And what I have been further instructed is that the military officials are guarding the home on account of the home owners. Your honour, this is very important and I pray we are on record, and there is no single police officer at the scene of crime”, Mr Muwaganya said.

After listening to submissions from both sides, in his brief ruling, Magistrate Kakooza directed the prison officers to ensure Molly’s doctors access her while in prison.

He also ordered that Katanga’s family members be allowed by security personnel to access their home.

The magistrate sent Molly behind bars at Luzira prison where she will remain until her trial starts at the High Court at the next convenient criminal session.

Fate of other accused

In a related development earlier yesterday morning, Kampala High Court Justice Isaac Muwata ruled that the Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court had no jurisdiction to entertain the plea taking of the four accused persons in the Katanga murder case.

This was because the charge sheet has a capital offence of murder, which can only be tried by the High Court.

Ms Molly Katanga, the key suspect in the murder of her husband Henry Katanga, is wheeled into Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court in Kampala yesterday where she was charged with murder.  PHOTOS | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Molly’s co-accused, including her two daughters, face less serious charges of destroying evidence and being accessories after the fact of murder, which offences can be heard by the Magistrate’s court.

“The magistrate was, therefore, only required to read the charges and advise the respondents that he did not have jurisdiction to hear the case and that they would take a plea or apply for bail in a court with competent jurisdiction and thereafter remand the accused persons. The purported actions taken by the learned chief magistrate were irregular and a nullity in law,” Justice Muwata ruled.

He added: “In the results, I find that the learned chief magistrate had no jurisdiction to take a plea given the nature of the charges presented before him. The resultant pleas are hereby set aside for being irregular and a nullity. The respondents shall take plea at the commencement of their trial before a court of competent jurisdiction.”

Justice Muwata set Monday next week for the hearing of the bail application for the accused persons.

DPP summary of evidence

On Monday, the Director of Plublic Prosecutions (DPP) tabled the summary of evidence that she is going to use against Molly in a bid to link her to the murder of her late husband.

Core to the summary of the forensic evidence tabled by the DPP was that Molly’s DNA was the most predominant on the killer gun.

“The SOCO (Scene of Crime Officer) visited the scene and picked several samples for forensic analysis. On the DNA examination of the pistol, it was found that A1’s (Molly Katanga) DNA was the most predominant on the trigger. The DNA analysis report shall be relied on during the trial,” read in part the summary of evidence tabled before Nakawa Chief Magistrate Court on Monday by the office of the DPP.

“The pistol was also submitted for ballistic examination and it was established that it was in good working condition capable of discharging live rounds of ammunition. The cartridge cases found at the scene were discharged by the pistol in issue. The ballistic expert report shall be relied upon during the trial.”

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is genetic material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person’s body has the same DNA.

DNA is a powerful investigative tool because, with the exception of identical twins, no two people have the same DNA.

Therefore, DNA evidence collected from a crime scene can be linked to a suspect or can eliminate a suspect from suspicion.

According to the summary of the evidence presented to court, the police on retrieving the information about the ownership of the killer fire arm, established that it belonged to the late businessman, Katanga.