By Edward Anyoli
THE interdicted Permanent Secretary of local government has been sentenced to 10 years and 10 days imprisonment for causing loss of sh4b to government.
Justice Catherine Bamugemereire ordered John Kashaka Muhanguzi (60-years old) and principal accountant Henry Bamutura (56 years) to both serve 10 years and 10 days in jail, and each is to refund about sh600m to government and were disqualified from public service job for a period of 10 years.
“I have considered the meticulous and sophisticated method used in awarding the contract to a sham company going by the names of Ammam Industrial tools and Equipment Ltd Aitel which led to loss of U$ 1,719,454.54,” Bamugemereire said.
Kashaka other co-accused Robert Mwebaze (principal accountant was sentenced to 10 years, for abuse of office and neglect of duty, Sam Engorot (50 years old) principal procurement officer sentenced to 13 years, Timothy Musherere (59 years old), a consultant was sentenced 3 years and 4 months imprison preparing and abetting crime.
Adam Aluma (33 years old) was sentenced to 1 year and 9 months abuse of office and neglect of duty. All the convicts were barred from public service employment in addition to serving custodial sentences.
Justice Bamugemereire said corruption thrives in an environment, multiplies where there is low risk of punishment and where probability for detection is low.
“Consequently the judiciary must wake up, takes its mantle and give ear to people’s cries. The judiciary cannot afford to be permissive to high ranking public officials as lenient sentences are a mere slap on the wrist and this attitude only exasperates corruption,” Bamugemereire said.
A fully packed court heard that Mwebaze, Emorut, Musherure, and Aluma acted in conspiratorial manner the way they smuggled Aitel untested company into the tendering process thereby causing colossal loss to government.
An unidentified relative of one of the jailed officials weeps in court after the sentences were handed out. Photo by Kennedy Oryema
“Bearing in mind I have equally taken a cautious note of the public outcry against corruption, tempering this with the need to act fairly and yet firmly,” Bamugemereire said.
However, during mitigation all the lawyers led by Mohammed Mbabazi and Robert Mwababaze asked court to impose lenient sentences arguing that the convicts were of advanced ages and that they would not serve in public offices for a period of 10 years which is already a punishment in itself.
The lawyers argued that all the convicts had school going children and dependents and if given custodial sentences their family members would suffer since they are the breadwinners.
Referring to Aluma, Justice Bamugemereire said, “Professor Glanville Williams is quoted to have stated that some people are born feckless, remiss, mindless and irresponsible. Your role as proven by the evidence was that you were a water cabbage which flowed whenever ringleaders took you. You are criminally feckless, negligent and irresponsible that you do not deserve mercy.”