Pine Murder: Ssebuwufu sentenced to 40 years in Jail, 100m compensation to victim’s family

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Haji.Mohammad Ssebuwufu (IN PICTURE) and Donah Betty Katusabe seven others are accused of beating to death a businesswoman in Kampala in 2015. (File photo).

High court in Kampala has sentenced Pine car bond director and businessman Muhammad Ssebuwufu to 40 years in jail over the murder of businesswoman Betty Donah Katusabe.

High Court judge Flavia Anglin Ssenoga who last week found Ssebuwufu and seven others guilty of kidnap and killing Katusabe sentenced Ssebuwufu to 40 years over the murder, 20 years over aggravated robbery and 30 years over kidnap. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Katusabe was killed in October 2015 over a sh9m debt owed to Ssebuwufu the owner of Pine Car Depot following a car deal.

Paul Tasingika, Shaban Odutu alias Golola, Philip Mirambe, Kayiza Godfrey, Yoweri Kitayimbwa and Damaseni Ssentongo were all sentenced to 40 years in jail for their part in the murder.

The convicts were also ordered to compensate the victims to the tune of sh100m.

Stephen Lwanga a taxicab driver was sentenced to 7 years behind bars for his role in the crime.

While convicting the group last week, the judge noted that prosecution had proved beyond doubt that all the accused participated in the commission of the offence.

“After carefully evaluating the evidence on record, I find that the prosecution has proved beyond the required standard that all the accused committed the offences as charged,” Ssenoga ruled. 

Adding, “I, therefore, find all the accused guilty of murder, kidnap and aggravated robbery as charged.” 

Citing the medical report by Dr Male Mutumba, Ssenoga noted that Katusabe did not die of natural causes but due to injuries inflicted on her by the accused in a bid to forcefully make her pay the money. 

“I find that the accused formed a common intention to forcefully make the deceased pay the money and hence assaulted her to death,” Ssenoga observed.

Prosecution stated that the accused and others still at large on October, 21, 2015, kidnapped Katusabe before beating her to death at Pine Car Depot on Lumumba Avenue in Kampala over a sh9m car debt. 

However, the judge disregarded the defence of the accused persons, noting that there was no credible evidence for consideration by the court. 

“The available evidence on court record places the accused on the scene of crime and the accused never disputed it,” she said.

The judge explained that she convicted Lwanga for aiding the commission of the offence but said the rest formed a common intention to forcefully make Katusabe pay the sh9m debt. 

She also disregarded the assessor’s opinion who unanimously implored the court to acquit the accused, noting that they failed to properly evaluate the evidence on record. 

Although Ssebuwufu in his defence said he had already secured the debt through a postdated cheque and that he had no reason to kill Katusabe, the judge said all his evidence was cover up. 

The judge also disregarded the evidence of Tasingika who told the court that he was hired by Sam Kiwanuka to pick Katusabe from Bwebajja in the company of Police officers over a Toyota Prado debt and not the Premio she had acquired from Ssebuwufu. 

The Genesis of the Case:

In 2015, Ssebuwufu sold a Toyota Premio to Katusabe at sh17m. She remitted sh8m thereby remaining with a balance of sh9m debt. 

On October 21, 2015, Katusabe was picked by Police officers from her residence in Bwebajja in the company of Tasingika and transported to Kampala. 

On reaching Kampala, she requested to be taken to Pine Car Depot to talk to the owner in a bid to resolve the matter amicably instead of jailing her.

The Police officers granted her request but at about 5:00 pm on the fateful day, she was reportedly assaulted and was rushed to Mulago Hospital from where she was pronounced dead. 

Ssebuwufu and eight others including former central police station commander Aaron Baguma were indicted with three counts of murder, kidnap and aggravated robbery. 

At the commencement of trial, the DPP dropped the charges against Baguma under Article 120 of the Constitution but did not advance any reason to that effect.

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