Sironko leader, woman remanded over PDM money theft

The LC3 Chairperson of Busita Sub-county in Sironko District, Patrick Bernard Mukota, and Hellen Nambozo (L) are seen in the dock at Sironko Chief Magistrate's Court on February 27,2024. PHOTO/YAHUDU KITUNZI

What you need to know:

  • The duo pleaded not guilty but were remanded until March 21, 2024 for further mention.

Two people, including the LC3 Chairperson of Busita Sub-County in Sironko District, have been remanded to Mutufu Government Prison in Sironko District on allegations of theft of Parish Development Model (PDM) funds after they fraudulently hacked into PDM Wendi App accounts.

LC3 chairperson Patrick Benard Mukota and 30-year-old C-Xpress company supervisor Hellen Nambozo (Mbale City resident) appeared before the Sironko Magistrate’s court on Tuesday.

Grade one Magistrate Fred Katugume read them two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony with unauthorized use or interception of computer services contrary to the Ugandan law. 

The duo pleaded not guilty but were remanded until March 21, 2024 for further mention.

Prosecution contends that on February 13, 2024, at Bumadyemu village in Sironko District, the accused and their accomplices, who are still at large, utilized Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards registered under Eddy Magomu's name to fraudulently obtain Shs5m from PDM Wendi App accounts.

Last Friday, the State House Anti-Corruption Unit (SHACU) and police arrested and arraigned Eddy Magomu in Sironko Magistrate Court on charges of interception of computer services and theft of PDM funds.

Sironko Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Dennis Balwaniregha said the suspects illicitly acquired the victims' personal identification numbers (PINs) without their consent and subsequently altered them.

 “This enabled them to hack into the victims' Wendi mobile accounts, resulting in notifications on the victims' devices indicating changes in PINs and unauthorized transfers of funds to a number in the names of Eddy Magomu,” he said.

Balwaniregha called for improving the Wendi system to prevent further fraud and hackings.

“Wendi by Post Bank was a good innovation to save people from lining up at the banks to get their money, but it gave Sacco chairpersons a lot of power to the discretion of choosing who to send money. This needs to be addressed,” he said.

The e-money app which allows money saving, transfers, deposits and withdraws, was purportedly developed by the government -owned Postbank Uganda Ltd.

The mobile wallet, which is a digital distribution service operated and developed by American tech giant Google LLC, was first piloted in Bukedea and Kakumiro districts before its official launch in November 2023.