The Rwizi Regional Criminal Investigations Officer, Topher Gimei found a hard time in the High Court Criminal Division on Thursday morning explaining his decision exonerating an aggravated robbery suspect.
He had appeared before Criminal Division Judge, Isaac Muwata who tried four suspects for aggravated robbery.
The suspects are Ali Ojulango, Godfrey Mwanda and Israel Waswa, all bodyguards of Pastor Jackson Ssenyonga, the head of the Christian Life Church in Makerere Kavule.
The fourth suspect is Ivan Wanyama, a chapatti marker at the same church.
The prosecution heard that on June 8th 2018 while at Christian Life Church, the accused persons who were armed with blunt objects robbed Sam Mukula of his mobile phone worth Sh35,000 and Sh 500,000.
They reportedly caused grievous harm to their victim in the resultant scuffle.
State Prosecutor, Prosecutor Jonathan Muwaganya explained that on a fateful night Mukula had gone to Christian Life Church where he often congregates for evening prayers.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, the court found that they had a case to answer and ordered them to defend themselves.
Israel Waswa brought the Rwizi Regional CID Police Officer, Superintendent of Police, Gimei as his defence since he made a report to the Director of Public Prosecutions exonerating him from the charges.
Muwaganya tasked Gimei to explain to the court how he arrived at the decision to write to the DPP to exonerate the accused.
Gimei explained to the Court that on August 8th 2018, he received a complaint from Waswa that he was being persecuted by the investigators under the influence of Mukula who wanted him included on the charge sheet.
The officer who was the then Kampala Metropolitan North Regional CID Officer informed the court that he proceeded and visited the scene of the crime together with his Deputy Detective ASP, Esther Uwera.
They allegedly recorded statements from eyewitnesses who informed them that by the time of the robbery, Waswa was guarding Pastor Ssenyonga at the alter as he was preaching.
In his report, Gimei indicates that by the time of the incident, the complainant who had come for prayers had become a ‘nuisance’ to the rest of the church members by shouting, banging tables and interrupting whoever tried to stop his actions.
According to Gimei, when Mukula’s behaviour became unbearable he was advised to step out of the church in vain.
However, after long persuasion, he accepted to leave and met Boda boda riders outside the church who mistook him for a criminal and pounced on him.
He explains that Mukula fell from the main road to the valley within the church compound.
“Worth noting however is that when this entire scuffle was going on, Waswa Israel was not present at that place of confusion. Neither was he among the church security who advised the complainant to go out of the Church,” said Gimei.
He said that it was upon these findings that he wrote to the DPP to drop Waswa from the charges. “…It’s my request that you consider amending the current charge sheet and exclude Waswa Israel since his inclusion on the same was premised on the falsehood perpetrated by his adversaries who always hated him because of his closeness to Pastor Ssenyonga,” recommended Gimei in his report to the DPP.
During cross-examination, the Muwaganya took Gimei through the police file and how he arrived at the conclusion recommending Waswa’s removal from the matter.
He put it to Gimei that his report was based on fraudulent concoctions he manufactures from the streets. There was a tense mood in the court when Muwaganya handed Gimei the case file to prove where he got the information he used to compile his report.
The accused’s lawyers objected to this move, saying the state didn’t indicate that they would rely on the police file during the trial. Muwaganya, who looked perturbed shot back wondering why the defence lawyers were speculating on his next move.
He passed on the police file to the Defense Lawyers, who refused to receive it, saying that they needed more time. On his part, Gimei claimed that some information was missing from the file.
Noticing the tense situation in the court, Justice Muwata interjected saying that he was confused at the moment.
The matter is still ongoing. It’s rare for police officers to appear in Court as defence witnesses.
The last time this happened was during the trial of Jackeline Uwera Nsenga for the murder of her husband, Juvenal Nsenga.