KAMPALA – Court in Kampala on Monday sent three people to prison to serve a 50-year jail sentence, each for the kidnap, robbery and murder of an Eritrean businessman – Daniel Michael Weldu in 2016.
The High Court Judge Flavia Anglin Ssenoga sentenced the trio – Bumali Mangeni alias Akeem – a former UPDF captain, Benon Duncan Lumu, 33, and Andrew Kisitu, 28 for the crimes committed on October 27, 2016, in Kololo – a Kampala suburb.
The Judge noted that she was satisfied with the evidence laid by 21 prosecution witnesses showing how the convicts kidnapped the deceased from Kololo; robbed his cash and other personal belongings from Jinja; before driving him into Kenya where they shot him dead and set his body ablaze to kill evidence. The trio later drove off with his vehicle and sold it in the DR Congo.
Ssenoga explained that the murder was properly planned and prior agreements made on how to execute it such as luring the deceased to get a Germany Visa; making him unconscious with sedatives and burning his body using petrol purchased in Jinja to hide the victim’s identity as well as disrupt investigations, which all proved that they had conspired to commit an offence.
“While the mitigating factors given in respect of each convict have been noted, that alone is not justification for non-custodial sentences. The sentences are meant to send out a strong message to the public and other would-be offenders that crime does not pay and is not going to be tolerated by anyone,” noted Ssenoga in her ruling.
The Judge cautioned that service in the army should not be used as a licence to commit crimes and expect to get away with it because the protection of society is paramount. She added that while Lumu and Kisitu were in their youthful ages, it wouldn’t save them from custodial sentences saying they should have channelled their youthful energy and education to worthwhile activities but not a crime.
Ssenoga stressed that whereas all convicts had family responsibilities, justice requires that they be severely punished for crimes committed if they are to understand that wealth is acquired through honesty.
As such, the Judge sentenced the trio to 50 years on the offence of kidnap and murder and 30 years in jail on the offence of aggravated robbery. The two will be served concurrently. Ssenoga also ordered the convicts to jointly compensate the family of the deceased with Ugx200 million.
Before the sentencing, the Prosecution led by Chief State Attorney Jonathan Muwaganya asked for a death sentence saying that this was a classic case of the ‘rarest of the rare’ cases ever committed in the country. Muwaganya submitted that the deceased was a visitor in this country and the Judge needed to sentence the convicts to death for the public to know that Uganda is a law-abiding country and foreigners are treated with dignity.
But the defence team through their lawyer Mark Mwesigye asked the court to hand them a lenient sentence because they were the sole breadwinners at home and have a chance to reform given their ages.