The trial of a case against six people, including four pastors, accused of conspiring to tarnish the reputation of Pastor Robert Kayanja by alleging that he had been involved in homosexuality, has been halted after the accused petitioned the Chief Registrar of High Court alleging that the trial magistrate took a bribe.
The Chief Resister, Henry Peter Adonyo, has asked the Criminal Investigations Directorate of the police to urgently investigate the allegations. The defendants allege that Kayaja’s camp bribed Magistrate John Patrick Wekesa with, among others, a Mitsubishi Pajero, registration number UAQ 166P and an unspecified amount of money.
They claim that the vehicle, silver in colour, initially belonged to one of the pastors in Kayanja’s church, Rubaga Miracle Centre. In a letter dated December 15 and addressed to Adonyo and Buganda Road Chief Magistrate, Vincent Mugabo, the accused, through their lawyers, are seeking an order to force Wekesa out of the case and want hearing to start afresh. They cite bias and bribery, among other issues.
The accused are pastors Solomon Male of Arising for Christ ministries, Martin Sempa of Makerere Community Church, and Michael Kyazze and Robert Kayiira of Omega Healing Centre. The others are businesswoman Dorothy Kyomuhendo and musician David Mukalazi. They allegedly conspired to claim that Kayanja sodomised young men at his church.
Prosecution led by Stephen Asaba alleges that in 2008 and 2009 at various places within Kampala district, the accused “conspired to cause injury to Kayanja’s personality and reputation.”
One of the deponents, whose name we have withheld so as not to jeopardise investigations by the Chief Registrar and police, contends in his affidavit that he heard Wekesa boasting in Lugisu before workers building his house in his home village: “Those pastors in Kampala are foolish. They are homosexuals, but don’t want to admit it. But I don’t care; they have given me a car and I will drive it.”
When The Observer contacted the Chief Registrar on Monday, he confirmed that he had received the sodomy file that day and had embarked on investigations. He, however, declined to divulge details on the matter. But The Observer has, through impeccable sources, seen a copy of his letter dated December 20, addressed to the Director CID, expressing urgent need for through investigations into Wekesa’s conduct.
“Trial has been stayed pending the outcome of the investigations. This is to request you to urgently commence investigations on the two affidavits, which are attached. The matter is coming up for mention on January 18, 2012,” Adonyo wrote.
According to our investigations, Wekesa, who has been driving an old Toyota Corolla for some time, started driving the Pajero in question in the middle of hearing of the sodomy case. He also allegedly started building a house in his home village four months ago.
“I recognised a motor vehicle parked at the construction site and I saw Mr Wekesa, whom I had heard about from my brother (name withheld) as the person who owns the plot where the construction is going on. I saw him with several people, including his workers at the construction site and my brother, standing around the motor vehicle and appearing to be admiring it,” said one of the affidavits.
A source told The Observer that the vehicle in question costs about Shs 80m and that, with his salary of Shs 800,000 per month, it would take Wekesa at least 100 months to raise this amount without any side income and without spending on anything else, including National Social Security Fund (NSSF) deductions.
According to their letter, the defendants’ lawyers, from Sekabanja and Company Advocates, are complaining that Wekesa is biased and has on several occasions threatened to arrest them. They say he also blocked the defendants from tendering in court video and audio evidence, and sometimes assists prosecution witnesses with answers.
The lawyers, Kato Sekabanja and Paul Rutsiya, allege that there are instances on the record where Wekesa has recorded an answer for a witness and then crossed it out and written another one when the witness is asked the same question again.
“On September 29, 2011, he delivered a ruling for which we requested a typed copy. On reading, we found that it was at variance with what he had read in open court. On a previous occasion, he stopped one defence counsel, Mr Gamara, from asking any further questions in cross-examination, shutting him out completely,” the lawyers state in their letter.
Before petitioning the Chief Registrar, the defendants’ lawyers first wrote to Wekesa on December 13, seeking a meeting of all parties in his chambers on December 15, with an intention of asking him to get out of the case. Wekesa did not grant the request.
It was on this same day that Wekesa, reportedly without submissions from the defendants and without citing any authority, delivered a ruling to the effect that the accused had a case to answer. He set December 19, 2011 as hearing date for defence, despite his own complaint that he had received “numerous calls from all sides about this case”.
Wekesa allegedly told the defendants’ lawyers that he had received “numerous calls from all sides” about the case, which got them worried about his impartiality. When he set December 19 as the date for the accused to start their defence, the lawyers opposed the move.
“We also note that at the last hearing, you referred to questions by our learned brother counsel, Edward Akankwasa, as ‘gasiya’ (rubbish), a matter that was well reported in the press (The Observer) and the recordings,” the lawyers charged in their letter to the magistrate.
The judicial spokesperson, Elias Kisawuzi, to whom Buganda Road Chief Magistrate, Mugabo, referred The Observer, said he had not gathered enough information to enable him comment on the matter.
Wekesa could not be reached for a comment, as he was not in his chambers and his clerk could not provide any information. But The Observer has reliably learnt that Mugabo met with Wekesa and all parties in his chambers on Monday before retrieving the file and adjourning the case to January 18, 2011.
According to a source that attended the meeting, Wekesa vehemently denied the bribery allegations and said he was using his own money, as he had been engaged in a booming business even long before he began practising law.