Katanga murder: Widow awaits second bail ruling 

Ailing Ms Molly Katanga wheeled in the courtroom February 2024. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Businessman Katanga was found dead in their bedroom in Mbuya, a Kampala suburb last November. His wife, Molly, was reportedly found lying unconscious beside his body.

On May 21, Ms Molly Katanga will be wheeled into a Luzira Prison room equipped with a video link to the High Court in Kampala. There, she will watch as Justice Isaac Muwata determines whether she can temporarily return home.
Ms Katanga was removed from the hospital on a court order on January 24 and charged with the murder of her husband, Henry Katanga, subsequently being remanded to Luzira in January.

Businessman Katanga was found dead in their bedroom in Mbuya, a Kampala suburb last November. His wife, Molly, was reportedly found lying unconscious beside his body. However, she was charged along with her daughters, Patricia Kakwenza and Martha Nkwanzi, as well as the medical doctor who first responded to the crime scene, Charles Otai, and a former domestic worker, George Amanyire, in connection to her husband's alleged murder.

Last month, Ms Katanga's attempt to secure bail for proper medical care, which the healthcare facility or medics at Luzira cannot provide, was unsuccessful. She has reportedly missed several medical appointments since being sent to Luzira.

Ms Katanga, whom doctors say has undergone five surgeries, asserts through her lawyers that her medical condition requires specialised treatment not available in Luzira prison where she’s confined.

The businessman’s murder stirred public debate with many condemning Molly and dismissing reports of her severe scalp and head injuries from an alleged domestic brawl on the day her husband died as mere excuses.

She was accused of ‘hiding in hospital and ‘faking illness and injuries’ before medical reports made public through the court proceedings indicated otherwise.

Doubts about Ms Katanga's health condition likely explain the startling incident where police officers stormed an operating theatre during her fifth medical procedure. This brazen intrusion followed other alleged forceful entries into hospital facilities by law enforcement and prosecution teams.

The officers were reportedly repelled by doctors over their client's right to privacy, which was being violated amid reported “intense pressures on medical staff.” 
Earlier this month, Ms Katanga reapplied for bail, citing her deteriorating health. Luzira Prison has stated it cannot handle her numerous health complications, including the trauma she suffered on a fateful day, resulting in multiple brain surgeries.

Through her legal team from Kampala Associated Advocates and Tumusiime, Kabega and Co. Advocates, she informed the High Court that she also suffers from hypertension, vertigo, resolving tissue injury, and benign breast masses (breast fibrocystic disease).
The prosecution, led by Chief State Attorney Samalie Wakooli, needs Ms Katanga well and alive to proceed with the case against her, as does Justice Muwata or anyone else who believes she must answer for her late husband's death.

Ms Wakooli previously blocked bail, suggesting Ms Katanga could interfere with investigations. However, she also mentioned that the murder trial is almost ready to start and that keeping her in Luzira a little longer would not make much difference. 

Given the extensive media coverage of the case, many are eager to see Molly answer for the murder of Mr Henry Katanga. However, with both doctors at the National Referral Hospital Mulago and Luzira Prison confirming her medical condition requires special attention, it may be time for a more humane approach.

Only when Ms Katanga is well and healthy will she be able to attend the murder trial, enabling the prosecution to proceed with their case.