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Tuesday,August 04,2020 20:11 PM

Gangster convicted

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th April 2010 03:00 AM

The gang had discovered a nice hide-out. They would strike, then hide among the population.

The gang had discovered a nice hide-out. They would strike, then hide among the population.

By anne mugisa
Over time, the court has decided on a number of high-profile cases. In a series, Saturday Vision looks back at some of the attention-grabbing cases that visited the court room

The gang had discovered a nice hide-out. They would strike, then hide among the population.

The tide of armed lawlessness was increasing both in Kampala and upcountry where different groups of robbers focused on soft targets.

Victims who tried to fight them off or who they thought had recognised them were shot dead.

This forced President Yoweri Museveni to form Operation Wembley, which later became, Violent Crime Crack Unit (VCCU).

But before ‘Wembley’, on August 25, 1996, Joseph Mpairwe was the victim of a Mbarara-based gang that shot him and drove off in his car.

Mpairwe drove a special hire taxi in Mbarara town in his car, 565 UBR. At around 8:00pm on the fateful day, at Shell Ankole fuel station, David Bahati, a taxi broker he knew, approached him with a customer.

Bahati claimed the customer wanted to be taken to Kamukuzi, a Mbarara suburb. Bahati also offered to go with them.

On Ntare Road, the “customer” asked Mpairwe to pick three more passengers who were standing by the road side. He obliged and realised that he already knew one of them as Enock Tumwine.

They asked Mpairwe to drive to the residence of the Resident District Commissioner at Kamukuzi.

The three passengers entered the gate, while Bahati and the original passenger stayed with Mpairwe in the car.

After a short while, the three returned and asked Mpairwe to drive them to Mile 6, on the Mbarara-Bushenyi highway, claiming their car had broken down.

When they got there, the passengers asked Mpairwe to park the car and put him at gunpoint. One of them tied him and Bahati with ropes.

The assailants bundled Mpairwe and Bahati into the boot of the car and drove towards the Queen Elizabeth National Park.

As they drove uphill, the car slowed down. At that moment, Mpairwe and Bahati overheard their captors discuss a plot to kill Mpairwe and dump the body in the park.

The two untied their hands, opened the boot, jumped out of the car and ran in different directions.

The thugs chased after them as they shot at them. Mpairwe was hit on the right side of the chest and he fell down. The assailants thought he was dead.

But he managed to drag himself away and later reach Mbarara Hospital the following morning. The bullet had damaged his liver.

Meanwhile, on August 27, 1996, Police in Mpondwe, Kasese had received a report of the robbery and had deployed personnel at all possible entry and exit points on the Uganda-DRCongo border.

Asuman Mulekera and Faruk Kifunda were arrested with Mpairwe’s vehicle.

Later, Frank Musinguzi was arrested and he revealed that Bahati was an accomplice. He too was arrested. Tumwine was arrested from Mubuku Prison where he had been remanded for burglary. He was using a pseudo name of Joshua Kwezi.

When the Police conducted an identification parade, Mpairwe identified Tumwine and Musinguzi as members of the gang that had robbed him. But Bahati identified different people.

Tumwine denied any involvement in the robbery and claimed that he was at his workplace at Mbarara Central Market until 6:00pm when he went home in Kakoba, another Mbarara suburb.

He claimed he was at home until the following morning. He even denied being arrested at Mubuku Prison, and claimed that he was arrested from his workplace on January 9, 1997.

He denied knowledge of Mpairwe and said Bahati was one of his witnesses. Bahati said he could not identify any of the robbers.

But later in court, the judge believed Mpairwe’s testimony and sentenced the accused to death in 2000.

COURT OF APPEAL
Tumwine appealed against the sentence. He complained to the Court of Appeal that the evidence on which he was convicted was insufficient as there was only one person who identified him.

He said the identification parade was defective and that the prosecution evidence had a lot of inconsistencies and contradictions.

He also said the judge wrongfully rejected his claim that he was at his home the night of the robbery and that the judge failed to evaluate evidence.The thrust of Tumwine’s appeal was on the question of identification.

His lawyer argued that the conditions under which the identification was held were difficult and that there was mistaken identity by a single witness.

But the Court of Appeal rejected Tumwine’s arguments and ruled that Mpairwe properly identified him. Tumwine then went to the Supreme Court.

SUPREME COURT
The lawyers complained the appeal justices failed to re-evaluate the evidence and neglected Tumwine’s argument. As a result, the lawyers argued, the justices wrongly upheld the conviction.

But the Justices of the Supreme Court did not find fault with the decision of the appealate court, which had upheld the ruling of the high Court.

They agreed with both lower courts and said the trial judge, in a well reasoned judgment, found that there was common intention between Tumwine and the rest of the gang.

The Supreme Court justices also said Tumwine’s claims were false and that Tumwine’s disappearance from home for sometime was indicative of his guilt.

They also pointed out that though Bahati tried to defend Tumwine, his evidence tied in with that of the victim to nail the convict.

Besides, the way Bahati conducted himself in the court showed that he was ashamed because he was not telling the truth.

They noted that during the trial, Bahati had denied knowledge of Tumwine, claiming that he saw him for the first time in the court, which was a lie.

“We have not been persuaded that both courts erred in their respective findings,” the justices ruled before confirming Tumwiine’s conviction on May 30, 2007.

They however, delayed the pronouncement because there was a petition challenging the constitutionality of the death sentence.

(The Supreme Court decided last year that the death sentence was constitutional). He now waits for the final verdict on the penalty.

Gangster convicted

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