Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The High Court in Kampala has scheduled February 21st, 2024, as the date for deciding on the application filed by four suspects implicated in the murder case of businessman Henry Katanga, seeking release on bail. Criminal Division Judge Isaac Muwata set the date after hearing submissions from both parties regarding the grounds for and against the application.
The suspects, including the deceased’s two daughters, Martha Nkwanzi and Patricia Kankwanzi, a shamba boy George Amanyire, and Medical Worker Charles Otai, appeared before the judge on Monday for the Prosecution to respond to their application made about two weeks ago. Kankwanzi, the first applicant, presented her husband Wilson Mwine Mukulu, who deals in solar energy, her mother-in-law Zakye Merian Kyamanyanga, the owner of Shell Pump Fuel Station Opposite High Court, and her father-in-law Herbert Kamugisha, who deals in real estate and farming, as her sureties.
Similarly, Nkwazi, the second applicant, presented her husband Christian Kivuna, a Distributor with Nile Breweries, Willis Bashasha, a family friend working with the office of the President as Director in charge of Manifesto, and her niece Harriet Hada Mucunguzi, the Property Manager at the National Social Security Fund, as her sureties. Charles Otai presented his wife Shamim Nakasujja, a Finance Assistant at AfriChild Centre, his mother-in-law Kaaya Hasifah Bukenya, a Marketing Manager with Chess Homes, his sister Christine Alamo, an Assistant Chef, and his brother Godfrey Opio, a UPDF officer at Magamaga, as his sureties.
The fourth suspect, Amanyire, presented Joab Tushabe, a businessman dealing in Mobile Money, Shallon Murungi, a waitress at Bugolobi Canteen, and Anthony Atwijukire, a Boda Boda rider, as his sureties. One of the accused persons, Kankwanzi, stated that she is suffering from fluctuating severe hypertension, heart disease, chronic clinical gastric conditions with upper GIT bleeding tendencies, and obesity, which require her to have regular access to specialized medical treatment and monitoring. She claimed to have no access to the required medical attention at Luzira Prison women’s wing where she is on remand.
The two sisters, Nkwanzi and Kakwanzi, also claim it’s their Constitutional right to apply for bail because they are innocent of the charges levied against them. Nkwanzi specifically mentioned that she is a new mother with a breastfeeding baby whom the court should allow to be nurtured by her mother. On the other hand, Amanyire and Otai pleaded with the court to release them on bail because they were the sole breadwinners of their young families.
Today, the Prosecution, led by Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Samalie Wakooli and State Attorney Jonathan Muwaganya, opposed the application on grounds that the applicants are likely to abscond, considering that some had to appear only upon the issuance of a warrant of arrest. The prosecution argued that all the accused persons have no fixed places of abode, and if they do, there is no evidence to prove the same. They also contended that the sureties presented were not substantial since some of them had no valid documents to submit to court.
According to the Prosecution, the applicants did not raise any valid exceptional circumstances, and those that resemble the circumstances do not fit within the meaning of the law. The Prosecution pointed out that the medical reports attached by the first and second applicants regarding their health conditions do not qualify as grave illness as required by Section 15 of the Trial Indictments Act. They criticized the medical doctor who authored the reports, stating that he lacked the qualifications to make the conclusions he did, as he is not a cardiologist but rather qualified in General Medicine.
“He is qualified in General Medicine and therefore does not have the required specialty to make such medical conclusions concerning the heart,” said the Prosecution. The Prosecution also noted the absence of clinical notes to provide the medical history of the alleged conditions. Regarding Kankwanzi’s obesity, they argued that if she continues eating as wished by her counsel, she cannot address the obesity problem. Furthermore, the Prosecution highlighted that investigations in this case are complete, and the accused persons are committed to the High Court awaiting trial.
They emphasized that Kampala has no substantial backlog, and there is currently an ongoing program of daily hearings at the High Court in Kampala, indicating no likelihood of delay in determining the main case. “Therefore, there are no longer cases of backlog within the circuit and there is no likelihood of delay in determining the main case,” said Prosecution.
Consequently, the Prosecution requested the court to deny bail. In case the court is inclined to grant bail, they proposed stringent bail terms, including depositing land titles and passports with the court, making a weekly reporting order to the registrar, and having their sureties committed to a compelling bond of not less than 100 million shillings each.