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. This week, we bring you the headline grabbing rape trial of Dr. Kizza Besigye.
By Edward AnyoliÂ
JUST as he had started his campaign tour as a presidential aspirant in 2006, Kizza Besigye was arrested at Busega, a city suburb, and charged with rape at Buganda Road Court on December 14, 2005.
The allegation was that in November, 1997, at Luzira in Kampala, Besigye had an unlawful sexual intercourse with Joanita Kyakuwa without her consent. A total of six prosecution witnesses testified.
In her testimony, Kyakuwa testified that between 1997 and 1998, Besigye was her guardian and she lived at his home during her S.6 vacation. Her aunt, Sauda Kibirige, was a friend of Winnie Byanyima, the wife of Besigye.
Kyakuwa testified that when the S.6 results were out, she passed but could not get government sponsorship at the university. According to her, Besigye offered to pay her tuition at Makerere University, where she was admitted for a degree in Bachelors of Arts. She said while at the university, she would spend weekends at Besigyeâ€™s home.
One Saturday, she testified, Besigye went home at about 8:00pm. Thirty minutes later, she went to the study room to watch television while dressed in a pair of shorts and a sleeveless blouse. Besigye, she said, followed her into the study room and started caressing her thighs. She tried to push him off but failed.
In the process, she added, Besigye carried her to the visitorsâ€™ room, put her on the bed, forced her shorts off and removed her knickers.
Besigye then pulled down his tracksuit with one hand as the other hand held her arm and by force, started making love to her.
Kyakuwa narrated to Justice John Bosco Katutsi that after Besigye had had sex with her, he went to the bathroom and returned with a towel for her to clean herself.
As she was in her room crying, a maid, Aisha Nakiguli, called her for supper. It was then that she said Besigye had raped her. Nakiguli testified that Jajja Malita connected her to work at Besigyeâ€™s home as a maid. She told court that Besigye was married to Winnie Byanyima who was not always at home, especially during the weekends. She further testified that after Kyakuwa had told her of the incident, she consoled her as she cried bitterly.
Court also heard that while Nakiguli was working at Besigyeâ€™s farm in Kasangati, the Police went and questioned her in 2001 about Besigye and Kyakuwa, but she declined to give any information. Later, she was arrested and taken to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence for interrogation.
John Musinguzi gave evidence that she first met Kyakuwa in 1999 and again in 2001 in Ntinda. On the second meeting, Kyakuwa told him about a story that had appeared in the Uganda Confidential magazine, saying she had been threatened with death and needed protection. She requested him to arrange for a meeting with the President. Musiguzi testified that the Presidentâ€™s private secretary organised their meeting with the President.
James Lwanga, a counselor, also testified as a prosecution witness. Lwanga said Kyakuwa was her client. Lwanga told court that she counseled Kyakuwa on HIV/AIDS related problems.
Malita Namayanja, another prosecution witness, told court that she was the one who permitted Nakiguli to work as a maid at Besigyeâ€™s house in Luzira. The last prosecution witness was Elizabeth Kuteesa, the then Director of Criminal Investigations Department.
Kutesa said she received instructions from the Inspector General of Police about a girl who had been sexually assaulted and the President directed the matter to be investigated.
The defence lawyer, David Mpanga, submitted that the charge against Besigye was a sheer fabrication from the beginning. He said the charge was natured and nursed at the State House and taken for implemention at the Criminal Investigations Directorate and he, therefore, asked court to dismiss the case.
He argued that the prosecution case was discredited and unworthy of any belief so much so that the defence had not seen it fit to put Besigye in his stand. He further argued that all the prosecution witnesses were not credible. Besigye did not call witnesses and he chose to keep quiet as a way of defence.
Prosecution, led by the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Simon Byabakama, said while courts usually rely on medical evidence on rape cases, failure to produce medical evidence did not mean that sexual intercourse never took place.
Byabakama said the matter was not reported to the Police because Kyakuwa lived in fear in Besigyeâ€™s house and was dependant on him for her education. He submitted that Besigye had warned her not to tell anybody about the incident.
On the arrest of Nakiguli by the Police, Byabakama submitted that it was not an act of intimidation and should not have attracted adverse comment. He asked court to take the contradiction in the testimony as minor and asked court to convict Besigye.
Byabakama said Kyakuwa gave a graphic account of what happened, â€œWhy should the witness (Kyakuwa) who appreciated what the accused had done to her give false story against him,â€ said Byabakama.
JUSTICE KATUTSIâ€™S RULING
â€œSo, here we have a situation where the criminal investigations boss has read something from a mere publication. She has not interviewed any would-be complainant, to say the least, to authenticate the publication; and is directing a junior officer to open a file against a newspaper-created suspect. All I can say is: May God bless this Pearl of Africa,â€ Katutsi commented.
The judge wondered why the criminal investigations chief would base her testimony on a newspaper story, alleging that Besigye had infected a young lady with HIV, yet she had neither tested Besigye for HIV nor interrogated him.
â€œIt would appear to me in all fairness to the criminal investigations boss that she is gifted with extra sensory perception. This surely must be good news for the Pearl of Africa!â€ Katutsi commented.
â€œThe evidence before this court is inadequate even to prove and to deprive a man of his civil rights, ridiculous for convicting of the pettiest offence, scandalous if brought forward to support a charge of any character, monstrous if to ruin the honour of a man who offered himself as a candidate for the highest office (in the country). In complete agreement with the lady and gentlemen assessors, I find that prosecution has dismally failed to prove its case against the accused. He is accordingly acquitted and set free forthwith,â€ Katutsi ruled.
WHO ARE THEY
Warren kiiza BESIGYE
He is a man who needs no introduction. The medical doctor contested twice against his former boss, President Yoweri Museveni, and to-date, he is the Forum for Democratic Change party President.
Besigye ventured into the political arena in the 1980s, when he worked as Uganda Peopleâ€™s Movement (UPM) activist while a medical student at Makerere University.
In June 1982, Besigye left UPM to join the National Resistance Movement, to fight for freedom in the Luwero bush war. While there, Besigye became a personal doctor of President Yoweri Museveni. When the NRM came to power in 1986, Besigye was appointed internal affairs state minister. In 1988, he was named state minister in the Office of the President and the National Political Commissar.
In 1994, Besigye was appointed a senior military advisor, but was later dropped after publishing a dossier that was critical of the Movement government. He was later summoned to appear before the Military Court Martial over the criticism.
He felt he could not continue appearing before the Court Marital and opted to tender in his resignation as an army officer. On October 28, 2000, he was allowed to retire from the army and soon declared to contest for presidency. When he stood, he got 28% of the votes in the 2001 elections, where Museveni secured 69%.
He contested the results in the Supreme Court, which ruled that there were irregularities but they were not significant enough to overturn the results. Later, Besigye fled to South Africa, only to return towards the 2006 elections. His party, the Forum for Democratic Change, got 37.4 % of the votes while the NRM bagged 59.3%.
Again, Besigye challenged the results in court. He wanted the results overturned. However, the Supreme Court ruled that the irregularities were not enough to reverse the outcome of the elections. Thereafter, Besigye said he would never return to Court to challenge the outcome of any elections.
Compiled by Edward Anyoli
Just like her own account of her life history, there are several versions of the biography of the woman who pinned Besigye over rape in the run-up to the 2006 presidential elections.
Kyakuwa, who said she tested HIV positive, contradicted herself on her age. When Besigyeâ€™s lawyer, John Matovu, cross-examined her in January 2006, she said she was 28. Earlier, in a statement in 2001, she had said she was 22, meaning she would be 26 by 2006.
But she later clarified; â€œI may have made a mistake but I did not deliberately tell a lie. I was born on December 23, 1977. May be I am poor in Mathematics.â€ Kyakuwaâ€™s father was Girivazio Tibamanya, an NRA soldier, who, according to her, was shot dead in 1991.
Those who know Kyakuwa on the social scene say she was a very outgoing person and liked partying. It is believed she had a child, Bathsheba, in December 2001, with city businessman Nick Wavamunno. She also claimed to have aborted Besigyeâ€™s child from a clinic in Kamwokya on March 10, 1998.
Besigye took Kyakuwa on as her guardian between 1997 and 1999. Her late aunt, Sauda Kibirige, then a good friend of Besigyeâ€™s wife, Winnie Byanyima, introduced Kyakuwa to Besigyeâ€™s family after she had completed S.6 at St. Charles Lwanga S.S.S in Masaka.
Kyakuwa, a Catholic, is said to have been born in Kabale but her aunt had a home in Mbarara. She had an uncle, Richard Mwogereza, who lived in Kampala.
Kyakuwa told court she had been hospitalised three times over mental problems in 1997 and 1998. During this time, she had enrolled at Makerere University for a Bachelor of Arts in Arts degree, but sources say she did not complete it. During her time at Makerere, Kyakuwa stayed at Sankara Hostel, on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road. He would go back to Besigyeâ€™s house in Luzira over the weekends.
During the Besigye trial, Kyakuwa told Court that she had been living at State House in Entebbe since 2001, citing threats on her life. Later, she disappeared from the public scene, prompting speculation that she had succumbed to HIV. Others, however, think she has decided to keep a low profile. Saturday Vision could not establish whether she is still alive or not.
Compiled by Chris Kiwawulo
Col. Kiiza Besigye survives rape charges