In January 2018, Francis Ekalunga was robbed, killed and body burnt beyond physical recognition. The body was later recovered on January 03, 2018 at Lumuli, in Kajjansi town council. The high court sitting in Entebbe presided over by Justice Yasin Nyanzi, on Wednesday September 15, 2021, convicted four people on cases of robbery and murder before awarding them custodial senteces the following day Thursday.
Muzamir Mawa the key convict who had also confessed to the crime, was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison whereas Resty Gorreti Nalunga, Deogracious Yiga and Huzairu Kiwalabye were awarded 5years, 7years and 25years in prison respectively, putting in consideration, the 3years and 8months the trio has so far spent in custody.
Muzamiru Mawa who pleaded guilty
Registered as a criminal case number 481/2018, Mawa had confessed to have committed the crime and a plea of guilty was recorded against him while the rest were indicted on aggravated robbery against section 285 and 286 of the Penal code Act and murder contrary to section 188 and 189 of the same Act. Whereas Mawa had confessed to the crime and therefore, not wasted the court’s time, the prosecution side led by Ramlar Damba, said the charges against him were serious in nature and therefore, asked the court to sentence him to death.
However, the trial judge noted that the case was not the rarest of the rarest which would attract a death sentence. Meanwhile, he noted that Mawa’s confession did not wash away the mother ills involved in the offence which involved a series of other offences among which included kidnap, robbery, murder and mistreatment of the dead by burning the body.
Prior the convictionThe state argued that Mawa, Nalunga, Kiwalabye and Yiga, on January 02, 2018, between Buganda road, Mulungo and Kajjansi robbed Francis Ekalunga a motor Toyota Premio vehicle registration number UAW 899U and cash of sh8,300,000 and US$9,000 and a Mobile phone before or after, tying a piece of cloth in his face, killed him and burnt his body. Under count two, the trio were also indicted of murder.
Having pleaded not guilty to the charges, the trio (save for Mawa who had confessed), were subjected to cross-examination by the prosecution side, after they had been arrested by tracking Mawa’s phone. The prosecution presented eight witnesses and several exhibits. Christine Nabwire, a wife to the deceased and Isa Juma an employee at Case clinic, were among the witnesses presented during the trial. Frank Nyakairu an expert in phone tracking and Dr. Sam Kalungi who examined the body plus three police officers also testified against the accused.
FindingsAmong the exhibits was the communication matrix, sketch maps, search certificates and number plate UAT 764L which had replaced the number plate of the vehicle belonging to the deceased. Among other exhibits included car lights of the deceased’s vehicle, key and the phone, all which belonged to the deceased.
A matrix was done on call logs and found that telephone number 0750365429 which belonged to Muzamir Mawa was in a suspicious contact with 0756260509 which belonged to Musa Sewankambo(still at large) and 0700731522 for Nalunga. The call data and records placed the accused at the scene of crime. “For instance, Nalunga who reached Case clinic on January 02, 2018 between 8a.m to 9a.m and stayed there up to close to midday. She kept in constant communication with Musa Sewankambo who was also in the same location,” read in part the judgement.
The evidence presented to court, also established that some of the telephone numbers belonged to people who used to work for Boda boda 2010 group under which, Huzairu Kiwalabye was the chairperson for Busega section whereas Deo Yiga was the chairperson for Wakaliga section.
In her evidence, Nalunga stated that she did not recall her phone number 0700731522 while at other times, she seemed not to be sure what the number was, yet admitted that the number had been registered in her name. “Having admitted that the number was registered in her name, this court needed no further proof that the number belonged to her, whether she had forgotten it or not,” stated justice Nyanzi.
Tracing some of the communication between and among the suspects, call data indicated that communication started within the same period when Karunga was kidnapped and killed. Court evidence also indicated that whereas Yiga and Kiwalabye subscribed to Boda boda 2010 group, the two had never talked to each other until January 02, 2018 when they made the first call and other subsequent calls which continued up to January 08, 2018, same period when the crime had been committed.Reference to Akbar GodiReferring to the case of Akbar Godi which was before Justice Lawrence Gidudu, where Rehma Nasur was found dead on December 4, 2008, Justice Nyanzi said, Nasur was found dead without any witnesses. However, relying on the evidence of a phone call she had received earlier, Godi was found guilty without his physical evidence. “The state and defence agreed that Godi was in Arua on December 03, prior to the death of his fiance.
There was no physical evidence to connect him to the case, but the call data showed him to be moving along Jinja road, in a radius of 30km from the crime scene,” Nyanzi referred. He further noted that Godi’s case, particularly the call dat among other evidences, tested in the high court, court of appeal and the supreme court, all which upheld the sentence.
Back to EkalungaJustice Nyanzi also wondered why Kiwalabye and Yiga would call each other for the first time on January 02, 2018 yet belonged to the same group of Boda boda 2010. “They’d be expected to meet more often than not. And yet, that communication only lasted for the period of the offence. The same applies to Nalunga and the Sewankambo (the suspect at large),” the judge exclaimed.
Nalunga was sentenced to five years due to her participation in spying on Ekalunga while notifying other participants. As to whether she knew, or did not know the consequences of her participation, was not an ingredient in defence against murder and robbery, according to the judge. Deducting the three years and nine months which Nalunga had been remanded, she’ll remains with less than 14months to serve her sentence.
Huzairu Kiwalabye who, according to the trial judge, deserved a heavier punishment, was sentenced to 25years because he was tortured during and after his arrest. Less, the three years and eight months he has spent on remand, Kiwalabye will serve for 21 years and four years while in prison.
Deo Yiga whose involvement in the criminality was regarded as minimal, was sentenced to seven years in prison less by three years and eight months so far spent on remand. He will therefore serve a punishment of the remaining three years and four months. All the accused persons were reminded of their right to appeal the sentence within fourteen days after the passing of the sentence.