Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Three people have been sentenced to serve 50 years in prison after being found guilty of kidnap, robbery and the subsequent murder of an Eritrean businessman Daniel Michael Weldu in 2016.
The three; Captain Bumali Mangeni also known as Akeem, Benon Duncan Lumu, 33, and Andrew Kisitu, 28 were sentenced by the Kampala High Court Judge Flavia Anglin Ssenoga on the crimes that occurred on October 27, 2016, in Kololo, an upscale suburb of Kampala.
The Judge noted that she was satisfied with the evidence laid by 21 prosecution witnesses showing that the convicts kidnapped the deceased from Kololo, robbed his cash and personal belongings from Jinja, before driving him into Kenya where they shot him dead and set his body ablaze. After this, they drove off with his vehicle and sold it in the Democratic Republic of 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,” Ssenoga said.
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.
According to Ssenoga, whereas all convicts have family responsibilities, justice requires that they be severely punished for crimes committed if they are to understand that justice is not only for their families but also to know 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 200 million Shillings.
Before the sentencing, the Prosecution led by Chief State Attorney Jonathan Muwaganya asked for a death sentence saying that this was a classical 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.
Muwaganya also quoted biblical teachings on crime, specifically Ecclesiastes 8:11 which says that when the crime is not punished, people think that it is safe to be wrong. 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.