Uganda: Gold Scam - Court Rejects Refugees As Sureties

The magistrate court yesterday tasked three Congolese accused of dealing in minerals without a licence to find Ugandans to stand surety for them.

The accused; Claude Sengimana,28, a businessman, Lowaka Wetshi, a cloth dealer, and Patrick Bazatoha,34, a broker, denied two counts which included conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence and dealing in minerals without a mineral dealers' licence.

They told court that they have sureties that can guarantee their bail once granted.

However, after scrutinising the sureties documents, the trial magistrate, Mr Asuman Muhumuza, realised that the sureties are refugees who can decide to leave the country anytime.

Mr Muhumuza advised the accused to find Ugandan nationals because it might be hard for court to trace the refugee sureties if suspects jump bail.

The trio is co-accused with Ibrahim Sekabira,24, an industrial salt seller. He also denied the charges.

Court adjourned the matter to August 8 for bail application.

Prosecution case

Prosecution led by Ms Patricia Chingtho contends that the accused, and others still at large, on July 29, in Kampala conspired to commit an offence of obtaining money by false pretence.

On the count of dealing in minerals without a licence, it is stated that the accused, and others still at large, on the same date in Kampala negotiated the smelting and testing of 22 kilogrammes of gold nuggets at a cost of $22,000 (more than Shs81m).

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