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Uganda: Police was trailing Kabafunzaki, says witness

KAMPALA: The security manager at Serena hotel has told court that police told him they were trailing suspended junior Labour Minister Herbert Kabafunzaki to Serena Hotel from where he reportedly received a Shs5 million bribe from Aya Group chairman Hamid Mohammed.

The minister is accused of receiving a Shs5m bribe from Mr Hamid at the hotel in exchange of clearing his name in the media over allegations of sexually harassing one of his female workers.

Mr Samuel Iranya, the protective services manager, told court that when he approached one Joshua the Officer-in-charge of Criminal Investigation Directorate at CPS about the commotion that police had caused at the hotel, he told him they had been trailing the minister who was receiving bribes from investors.

“Godfrey Okiror, a private security guard at the hotel called telling me that there was a scuffle at the hotel. I rushed to the first floor because the security officers at the hotel were not allowed to intervene.

I found Joshua who told me, ‘We are sorry we did not inform you, but police have been trailing someone whom they have finally found at the hotel,” he said.

Mr Iranya explained that the money had been earlier photocopied by police. So upon recovering it, the police officers started marching the serial numbers with the specimen copies.

Mr Kabafunzaki is jointly charged with Brian Mugabo, his political assistant and Bruce Lubowa, an interior designer from Wakiso District.

In September, Okiror told court presided over by Justice Margaret Tibulya that he did not see Mr Kabafunzaki receive a bribe at the facility upon reviewing the CCTV footage, but instead saw his aide, Mr Mugabo, hiding the bribe.

Mr Okiror told court that he was in the CCTV room with his colleagues when he saw commotion on the first floor of the hotel. Upon rushing to the floor, Mr Okiror said he found plain-clothed police officers arresting someone whom he later learnt was Mr Kabafunzaki’s aide.

Prosecution contends that on April 8, 2017 at Kampala Serena Hotel, while in performance of his duties as the minister, Mr Kabafunzaki directly solicited for himself Shs15 million as a gratification from Mr Hamid in exchange for clearing his name from the allegations of sexual harassment.

In court count two, the State asserts that on the same day, the minister directly accepted Shs5 million as a gratification from Mr Hamid in exchange for clearing his name.

In the third count of conspiracy to commit a felony, the State alleges that between April 6 and April 8, the minister conspired with Mr Lubowa to solicit a gratification of Shs15 million from Mr Hamid for purposes of clearing his name. They denied the allegations.

Court heard from the prosecutor, Ms Barbra Kauma that state decided to continue with the trial of Mr Kabafuzaki and Mugabo after the A3 (accused number three) Lubowa vanished on allegations that he is being admitted at Butabiika Mental hospital.

Justice Tibulya adjourned the matter to November 26, for further hearing.

By Daily Monitor

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