The Anti-Corruption court has convicted former state minister for Labour Herbert Kabafunzaki of corruption.
Justice Margaret Tibulya delivered the verdict this morning after finding the former minister guilty of soliciting a bribe of Shs 5 million about four years ago.
In her judgement, Tibulya noted that the prosecution was able to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. Earlier on, the prosecution told the court that on April 6 and 8 2017, Kabafunzaki directly solicited and accepted a bribe of Shs 5 million from Hamid Muhammed, the chairperson of Aya Group of Companies as an inducement to clear him of sexual abuse allegations by his former employee, Jamila Opondo.
The complainant had made the allegations both before the police and Kabafunzaki in his capacity as Labour minister. Police arrested Kabafunzaki redhanded with the money together with his former political assistant, Brian Mugabo and an interior designer Bruce Lubowa at Serena hotel.
During the trial, prosecution tabled evidence from several witnesses including recordings showing how Kabafunzaki got the money and handed it to Mugabo to count it and tried to hide it behind the hotel curtains when police stormed to arrest them.
Mugabo later testified as a state witness against Kabafunzaki, which prompted the directorate of public prosecutions (DPP) to drop the charges against him and Lubowa. In her judgement delivered in-camera, justice Tibulya ordered Kabafunzaki to pay a fine of Shs 10 million or serve a three-year jail term.
State attorney Josephine Namatovu, who attended the proceedings told journalists that the court convicted the former minister on both offences and handed him a fine of Shs 5 million for each offence.
The court has also barred Kabafunzaki from holding any public office for ten years and ordered him to forfeit the Shs 5 million he paid for his bail for absconding from the court proceedings.
The judge issued a warrant of arrest directing security agencies to arrest Kabafunzaki on-site and produce him in the court to comply with the respective orders and sentence.
Kabafunzaki abandoned the trial in March 2021 when it was in its advanced stages pending the opinion of court accessors and judgement. The court issued a warrant of arrest for the former Rukiga county member of parliament in vain.
He was previously represented by lawyers Macdusman Kabega and Evans Ochieng who were also not in court to receive the judgement. Efforts to speak to Ochieng were futile as calls from our reporter to his cellphone went without reply.