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$600,000 gold scam: Kampala Land Board boss Balondemu released on bail

FILE David Balondemu heading to court earlier

FILE David Balondemu heading to court earlier

Kampala District Land Board chairperson, David Balondemu, along with his co-accused Geoffrey Mkwe have been released on bail.

The duo was released this week by City Hall court grade one magistrate, Rehema Nassozi. They are jointly accused with businessmen James Jeff Mugisha and Godfrey Mabirizi of obtaining money by false pretense from a Korean investor and conspiracy to defraud.  

According to the state prosecution, the accused persons, along with others still at large, obtained $600,000 (about Shs 2.2bn) between March and November 2021 at the offices of Balondemu and Company Advocates along Parliamentary Avenue in Kampala. They allegedly falsely pretended to sell 53kg of gold to a Korean investor, Hyun UK Kim.

The accused who appeared before court at different intervals last month, denied the charges. They sought bail through their respective lawyers, including Caleb Alaka, Evans Ochieng, and Mukasa Mbidde. Balondemu considered the prime suspect, argued that he was an officer of the court with a significant and unquestionable legal experience as a lawyer. 

He presented several individuals as his sureties, including Dr Richard Lukandwa, a consultant physician at the Medical Hub, Richard Collins Kiberu, managing director of C and C Investments and Goldmark Property Limited, his wife Slyvia Bahizi, an employee at Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), and businesswoman Betty Nakayima, dealing in chemicals with Sunrise Luxury SMC. 

The prosecution, led by state attorney Mercy Yamangusho Khaidarah, opposed the bail applications, citing incomplete investigations that could be jeopardized by the release of the accused. In her ruling, Nassozi found the sureties to be substantial and allowed the applications for bail for the lawyers.

Balondemu and Mkwe were ordered to pay Shs 20 million cash while their sureties were required to execute a non-cash bond of Shs 200 million. They were also ordered to deposit their passports with the court and were barred from leaving the country without court permission.

The co-accused, who were the first to be arrested and sent to prison, were further remanded until November 15 for the prosecution to verify the documents presented in their bail application and for mention on the progress of investigations. The ruling was delivered in a crowded courtroom with numerous supporters of Balondemu, dressed in white t-shirts bearing his name and pictures with the inscription "We need Evidence and Justice for Balondemu David."

David Balondemu's supporters at court

Balondemu was arrested by detectives from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and detained at the Special Investigations Department in Kireka for three days before being produced in court and subsequently remanded to Luzira prison where he spent 16 days. 

Several law firms in Kampala have been implicated in gold scams, with allegations of connivance with suspects. However, these firms maintain that they are accused of providing legal services to their clients and nothing else.

Comments

+2 #1 kabayekka 2023-11-11 16:39
This is a self made scum made by the NRM government. District employees are busy dealing in real business of all types in the country.

Unfortunately many of these NRM die hard who have taken on such responsibilities have found themselves on a different side of the law.
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