Why the police can’t win
Since Nov.12, when Mathew Kanyamunyu; a young flamboyant businessman in Kampala City and a female companion, Cynthia Munwangari, were arrested as suspects in the death of a young man called Kenneth Akena, Jinja Road Police Station where investigations into the case are centred has become a ghost of its normal self. Many of the offices are often empty.
“All the senior officers are out investigating this case,” a police officer told this reporter on a recent visit, “Everyone has been instructed to focus on this high profile case.”
At the time, Kanyamunyu, the main suspect, was being held in Room 4 at the station together with Munwangari. They were with their lawyers and relatives and a police source revealed the suspects had just recorded “another statement”.
That changed little even after the suspects, now joined by others, were on Nov. 22 arraigned before the Nakawa Magistrates Court and charged with murder. Even as the suspects were being arraigned in court, and information was circulating that the police had found the killer pistol, it was yet to get a positive match of gun residue on the suspects.
That the suspects appear to be in almost endless interrogation would normally imply that the police are constantly getting new significant leads and evidence into the crime. But that is not the case this time. Although Jinja Road Police Station is just a few metres from the upscale Game Lugogo Mall area which is the suspected scene of crime, sources close to the investigation have told The Independent that the “case file is still empty”.
“When the police took the file to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecution) for sanctioning, he threw it back at them,” one source said.
Up to this point, what was known were tidbits of information from public utterances made by Paul Nyeko, the cousin brother of the deceased, and the suspects Kanyamunyu and Munwangari, and Kanyamunyu’s brothers; Moses Kanyamunyu and Joseph Kanyamunyu.
Sources closely following the case who claimed to have seen the police file on it insisted it was “empty”.
The arrest of Kanyamunyu’s two brothers around Nov.17 also followed a linear progress of the case. That was five days after the shooting. On all days before, the two had been frequenting Jinja Road Police Station and interacting with the main suspects, Kanyamunyu and Munwangari.
While Kanyamunyu was being held at Jinja Road, Munwangari had been shifted to the Police Special Investigations Unit (SIU) Kireka. Upon arrest, the two brothers were held at Kira Road Police Station.
A source who is involved in the investigations told The Independent that the two were arrested because records from Kanyamunyu’s phone showed they are the people he called at about the suspected time of the crime.
A lawyer working on the case also told The Independent that the arrest showed that the police does not have decisive evidence and “they were trying to cast the net wide enough to see what comes up”. He said police’s claims that they know the whereabouts of the gun that was used in the shooting is part of the plot.
According to this version, although stories had been twirling in the media about motives and circumstances leading to the killing of Akena, including drunken driving, road rage, and a trigger-happy playboy, there was so far very little hard evidence in police hands to hold Kanyamunyu in detention.
Up to this point, the DPP’s position was clear: Unless police came up with some hard evidence, the murder case would not be sanctioned, and Kanyamunyu – whom the public has already pronounced guilty, would walk free. But there was a problem. Although the case started off as a simple albeit fatal crime, it has since become hotly political and even sucked in President Yoweri Museveni.