20 April 2017

Uganda: Kampala Opens Fresh Charge Against Suspended Minister Kabafunzaki

Kampala yesterday added one more charge against the former junior Minister for Labour Herbert Kabafunzaki, who is already facing charges of soliciting and receiving a bribe.

The amended charge sheet notes that on April 8, 2017, Mr Kabafunzaki allegedly conspired to commit a felony with his political assistant Brian Mugabo, contrary to section 390 of the Penal Code Act.

The former minister is accused of receiving a Ush5 million ($1,380) bribe from Aya Group chairman Mohammed Hamid in order to "clear" the businessman over allegations of sexual harassments against a former employee.

The former minister who is currently out on bail pleaded not guilty to the new charge at the Anti-Corruption Court.

"Not true your honour..," he said in court.

This brings to four the number of corruption-related charges Mr Kabafunzaki is facing.

The old charges include two counts of corruption contrary to section 2(a) and 26 of the Anti-Corruption Act 2009, and one count of conspiracy to commit a felony with Bruce Lubowa, the third suspect on the charge sheet.

Meanwhile, Mugabo yesterday made a U-turn and pleaded not guilty to an earlier charge against him of being an accessory to the alleged offence.

The 21-year-old had on his previous appearance before the court pleaded guilty to having run away with the bribe money.

He had offered to be turned into a state witness and testify against the former junior minister.

Chief Magistrate Agnes Alum had set yesterday as the date to pass her sentence against Mugabo. However, Mugabo is reported to have sworn an affidavit in Luzira Prison noting that he did not understand the charges at his maiden court appearance and needed to change his plea from guilty to not guilty.

"I am the accused in the above matter. I seek indulgence of court to change the plea of guilty that was entered by court," Mugabo said in his affidavit. "I did not understand the charges as read to me by court and I had spent more than 48 hours in police detention thus suffered massive duress and stress." The law allows a suspect to change his/her plea before court has pronounced a sentence.

Mugabo was denied bail and further remanded over lack of substantial sureties.

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