Because his wife Winnie Byanyima stood surety for both Matthew Kanyamunyu and Joseph Kanyamunyu, accused of killing Kenneth Akena Watmon, some Acholi MPs have told the opposition FDC founding president, Dr Kizza Besigye, not to set foot again in northern Uganda to seek votes.
Matthew, his Burundian girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari and his bother Joseph are charged with the November 13, 2016 murder of Akena, a child rights activist who was born in the northern district of Kitgum.
Byanyima, an auntie to the Kanyamunyus, arrived at the High court at around 10am sporting an African agbada. She sat at the back of the court with her sisters Martha and Edith, with whom she shares a surname.
But when Ronald Muhwezi, one of the lawyers representing the accused, told Justice Elizabeth Kabanda that Winnie was to stand surety for Joseph and Matthew, the principal suspects, the announcement incensed Akena’s relatives.
At that moment, Akena’s relatives and parliamentarians led by Samuel Odonga-Otto (Aruu South), Beatrice Anywar (Kitgum Municipality) kept their cool. But as Winnie was leaving court, they made their true sentiments known to the Oxfam chief executive.
“Of all people Winnie Byanyima, the wife of Dr Kizza Besigye, to stand surety for a murderer?” Otto charged as Winnie passed by quietly. “The political lines have been re-drawn in Uganda. Dr Besigye shouldn’t step again in Northern Uganda.”
While weeping, Otto tried to come near Winnie but she slowly moved away, as the gangly, youthful legislature continued with his verbal assault.
“The next time Besigye comes to Northern Uganda, he should come in an armoured vehicle,” Otto charged. “We shall be ready for him with spears and arrows. If they acquit Kanyamunyu [Matthew], we shall exhume his dead body and take it to Kasangati [Besigye’s home].”
Dramatically, Otto, held a toddler who he said is Akena’s child and questioned whether Winnie will pay the child’s school fees.
Otto wasn’t alone. He was joined by Akena’s father who also condemned Winnie’s participation in the case by dragging in Besigye’s name.
“How many people died in Northern Uganda because of Besigye? The late James Opoka,” Akena’s father said. “But this is how he has repaid us by standing surety for a murderer. This is a betrayal.”
In condemning Besigye, Anywar, who has broken ranks with FDC, was not to be outdone. “Besigye shouldn’t step again in Northern Uganda,” a teary Anywar said. “We shouldn’t allow him to deceive us.”
QUEST FOR BAIL
Earlier, principal state attorney Samalie Wakhooli, who represented the director of public prosecutions (DPP), asked Justice Kabanda not to grant the accused bail. First, Wakhooli cautioned Justice Kabanda that if she grants the accused bail, then court will be abetting impunity and lawlessness.
In asking Justice Kabanda to deny the accused bail, Wakhooli cited fraud in Joseph’s bail application. According to Wakhooli, Joseph went to the Local Council chairman to get a letter that will enable him get bail before he could even be arrested and charged by the police.
“How could this be possible?” Wakhooli asked, “This means that these people know that they committed a crime; that’s why they started applying for bail before they were even charged.”
Shortly after, she turned her fire to Munwangari, saying that she might disappear because she has both Rwandan and Burundian passports. Both of these passports have been confiscated by police.
“My lord, when you look at the records of her [Munwangari] movements in the month of September, she entered Uganda using a Rwandese passport,” Wakhooli explained, “She later exited Uganda using a Burundian passport. This shows that this person can disappear.”
Wakhooli also cast doubt on Munwangari’s claim that she is a founder and employee of Ubumwe Foundation. She pointed out that though officially she claims to work for Ubumwe, her working permit indicates that she works for Quantum Express Logistics, which is owned by Matthew, her boyfriend.
“We are not sure of this organisation [and], if at all it operates in Uganda, what exactly it deals in,” Wakhooli said, “We cannot let such a person go.”
It has been widely speculated that Matthew, owner of logistics company Quantum Express Logistics, shot Akena, 33, in the stomach over a car scratch. Akena died later at Norvik hospital on November 13, 2016.
When it came to Munwangari, Justice Kabanda was swayed by the prosecutor’s argument that she was a flight risk since she holds Rwandan and Burundian passports. She only holds a Ugandan work permit.
For Joseph Kanyamunyu, the judge doubted his local council letters. She didn’t believe they were from his place of residence. When he hurriedly furnished court with others, it was too late, the ruling had been made.