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2010 bombing trial: ‘I sold 2 phones to terrorists’

During the High court trial of the 12 suspects in the 2010 terror attacks in Kampala on July 28, the defence presented the 19th witness who revealed how he sold some of the phones that were used to explode bombs that rocked Kampala on July 10, 2010.

Another witness, a survivor, told Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo’s court how he survived the terror attack at Ethiopian village, Kabalagala one of the targeted places. SIRAJE LUBWAMA and DERRICK KIYONGA recorded the proceedings and below are excerpts.

Okalany: If it may please you my lord, for the prosecution, I am Susan Okalany. The defence team is headed by Caleb Alaka. We have two witnesses ready to testify.
Jatiko: I am Thomas Jatiko for the prosecution. (To the witness) Tell court your full names.
Makubuya: I am Joseph Makubuya [51-year-old businessman; born-again Christian; lives in Kampala; speaks Luganda].
Jatiko: What were you doing in the year 2010?
Makubuya: I was selling in a   retail shop dealing in different types of phones.
Jatiko: Where was your business located in 2010?
Makubuya: At Majestic plaza on William street, plot 22.
Jatiko: Where were you on 9th July 2010?
Makubuya: I was at my shop, the day started well and I did my work as usual. In the evening, as I was closing my shop, there came a gentleman at around 7pm who wanted phones at fair prices. I showed him Nokia 3510 and ZTE kabiriiti phone. We agreed Shs 45,000 for both phones and he paid.
Jatiko: Can you describe these phones?
Makubuya: Kabiriiti is a small phone with a black cover; its centre is silver and in front it is covered with black with its rubber batons which are shining. Nokia 3510 has a dark silver cover with lighting centre and it is black in front.
Jatiko: So, what happened?
Makubuya: After selling him the phones, I locked the shop and went home.
Jatiko: Did you issue him with a receipt?
Makubuya: I didn’t because I was in a hurry.
Jatiko: Where did you get these phones?

Makubuya: I got some of the phones from a colleague. I bought others from Rhona Communication Link Limited and I was issued with a receipt.
Jatiko: How would you tell that this is a receipt issued to you by Rhona Communications?
Makubuya: I signed on this receipt as a customer.
Jatiko: If I showed you this receipt, would you recognize it?
Makubuya: Yes.
Jatiko: Look at this receipt and tell court if you can recognize it.
Makubuya: This is the receipt, it bears my signature down.
Jatiko: Does that receipt indicate the ZTE kabiriiti phone?
Makubuya: It shows it with a serial number 35232308530345.
Jatiko: On which date did you purchase this phone?
Makubuya: On 8th July 2010.
Jatiko: Is that the same date you sold the phone?
Makubuya: I sold it the following day.
Jatiko: Does the receipt bear your name?
Makubuya: It has my two names Joseph Makubuya on top and it bears the name of the company from where I bought it.
Jatiko: Prosecution prays that the receipt be admitted as an exhibit. (It is admitted). Did you know the customer you sold ZTE kabiriiti phone?
Makubuya: Yes, I knew him. He is Hassan Haruna Luyima [one of the accused]. We were in the same phone business. At first I used to buy from him second-hand phones and brand new phones from London.
Jatiko: Did you know where Haruna Luyima’s business was located?
Makubuya: At first he was transacting his business from Pioneer mall. He shifted to Zainab Aziizi plaza. He later shifted to Majestic plaza where I was.
Jatiko: For how long had you known him before that day?
Makubuya: About five years.

Jatiko: Can you describe this person?
Makubuya: He is black, tall with a small head and soft spoken.
Jatiko: If you are given chance to look through this court, would you recognize this person if he is here?
Makubuya: I can.
Jatiko: Can you look for this person you are referring to? (He goes throughout  court tracing for Haruna. After a while, he points at Hassan Luyima).
Judge: Can the person pointed to stand up? [Haruna stands up].
Jatiko: Is that the person you sold the phones to?
Makubuya: That is the one.
Jatiko: Did you see that man again?
Makubuya: I saw him again on 5th August 2010 when he had come to my shop with security operatives. They asked me whether I had sold him the phones and I accepted. They also arrested me and took me to a place I didn’t know but it’s found in Kololo. They interrogated me and released me later.
Jatiko: What happened to the ZTE telephone receipt?
Makubuya: I handed it over to police officers.
Jatiko: What about the 3510 phone receipt?
Makubuya: I misplaced it.

Jatiko: No further questions.
Alaka: Joseph, are you saved?
Makubuya: Yes.
Alaka: Which church do you go to?
Makubuya: Victory Christian Centre.
Alaka: For how long have you been in the new and second-hand phone business?
Makubuya: From 2000 to date.
Alaka: On 8th July 2010, was it the first time you purchased phones from Rhona Communication?
Makubuya: No.
Alaka: How often did you purchase from there?
Makubuya: It depended on the demand and availability of money.

Alaka: The transaction of 8th July 2010 was cash, is that correct?
Makubuya: I paid them after they supplied them to me.
Alaka: Did money exchange hands between you and Rhona on 8th July 2010?
Makubuya: I paid him on the evening of that same day.
Alaka: What time did you collect the phones?
Makubuya: In the morning.
Alaka: Were you given a receipt?
Makubuya: Yes.

Alaka: Before issuing you with a receipt, did you pay?
Makubuya: No.
Alaka: When you paid in the evening, were you issued with another receipt?
Makubuya: He only wrote on the receipt he issued me in that morning that I had paid money.
Alaka: Is your name also indicated on the receipt?
Makubuya: I am Makubuya. [Laughter]
Alaka: Did those people from Rhona know you?
 

Makubuya: Yes.
Alaka: Can you read the small words on top of the receipt?
Makubuya: I can’t see properly.
Alaka: Can you see the name Ssekandi?
Makubuya: I can only be able to read big letters.
Alaka: That name Ssekandi appears against Nokia 1112.
Makubuya: Yes I can see it.
Alaka: Then Mugerwa the second name which appears against Nokia 1112, have you seen it?

Makubuya: Yes, I can see it.
Alaka: The next name is Carlo which is against ZTE kabiriiti, have you seen it?
Makubuya: I can see it.
Alaka: Have you seen Willy against Nokia 1050?
Makubuya: Yes.
Alaka: Did you ask the people who gave you this receipt what these names stand for?
Makubuya: I didn’t.

Alaka: How much did you pay for Nokia 1112?
Makubuya: I bought them all together.
Alaka: These phones are different; how much was each?
Judge: As you are standing there now, do you remember?
Makubuya: Yes. For Nokia 1112 I paid Shs 30,000.
Alaka: What of Nokia 1050?
Makubuya: Shs 35,000.
Alaka: What of ZTE kabiriiti?
Makubuya: Shs 15,000.
Alaka: What of Nokia 1650?

Makubuya: I bought it using the balance.[laughter]
Alaka: If you don’t remember say so, we were not there. I presume you made a statement at police. Were you shown any phone?
Makubuya: I made a statement but they didn’t show me a phone.
Alaka: Not even a broken one?
Makubuya: No.
Alaka: Were you aided with a receipt when making a statement?
Makubuya: It was not shown to me.
Alaka: Did you have that receipt when making a statement at police?
Makubuya: It was not there.
Alaka: Look at the statement, is it yours?

Makubuya: Yes.
Alaka: What shows that it’s your statement?
Makubuya: I signed on it.
Alaka: Do you remember where you made it from?
Makubuya: At Naguru.
Alaka: Were you asked questions by police when recording this statement?
Makubuya: Yes.
Alaka: Did police ask you about ZTE kabiriiti phone?
Makubuya: The police had the receipt.
Alaka: How many people took your statement?

Makubuya: One person.
Alaka: Did he have the receipt when making your statement?
Makubuya: I didn’t see it but I think he had it.
Alaka: Did he provide you with the serial number since the receipt [was] not there or you copied the number from your head?
Makubuya: I can’t cram; it came from the receipt to the statement [laughter].
Alaka: Do you recall writing a serial number of ZTE phone?
Makubuya: The police officer had it and he showed it to me.
Alaka: You said you did not see the receipt when making the statement.
Makubuya: I had forgotten, the policeman showed the serial number to me and wrote it down.
Alaka: You said you are saved; have you ever dealt in stolen phones?
Makubuya: I have never.
Alaka: Have you ever dealt in locked phones?

Makubuya: Those from Europe are network-locked and I have ever bought them and sold them after they were unlocked.
Alaka: You facilitated unlocking these phones?
Makubuya: Yes, some people with software can unlock them.
Alaka: What of changing phone serial numbers; does it happen in your working place?
Makubuya: That one, I don’t know. 
Alaka: Where is Rhona Communications found?
Makubuya: It was at Kalungi plaza; now they have moved to another location.
Alaka: Have you ever been taken to CPS as a suspect?

Makubuya: Yes, on assault charges.
Alaka: That was before you got saved?
Makubuya: Yes.
Alaka: How long ago was that?
Makubuya: In 1998.
Alaka: Is there anything which shows that you sold that phone to Hassan Luyima?
Makubuya: I don’t have it here.
Alaka: That is all.
Ocheing: For the record, I’m Evans Ocheing for defence. Makubuya…, do you issue receipts to your customers?
Makubuya: On many occasions I issue them receipts.

Ocheing: In these receipts, do you record details of particulars and serial numbers?
Makubuya: I put there the name of the buyer, type of phone and the amount.
Ocheing: Is it also true that there are quite a number of customers you don’t issue receipts?
Makubuya: It depends on the relationship I have with a particular customer.
Ocheing: Do you have any receipt where you have sold this ZTE phone?
Makubuya: No.
Ocheing: Do you have carbon copies of these receipts?
Makubuya: Yes.
Ocheing: That is all.

Kasiriivu: I’m Kasiriivu [Yunus] the resident defence lawyer. Can you tell court whether you had a trading licence in 2010?
Makubuya: I had it.
Kasiriivu: Where is it?
Makubuya: Unless I go back and look for it.
Kasiriivu: I put it to you that you had no trading license and never traded in phones.
Makubuya: You can’t work in Kampala without a license.
Jatiko: No re-examination.
Judge: Joseph, do you have a copy of this receipt?
Makubuya: No.
Judge: What are those writings on top of the receipt?
Makubuya: Hire purchase.
Judge: You know what hire purchase is?

Makubuya: I don’t know.
Judge: You went to Rhona Communications in morning hours and bought phones; is this the time they gave you a receipt with all these things written on it?
Makubuya: Yes.
Judge: Also written Shs 150,000 for all the phones?
Makubuya: Yes.
Judge: And they put there that no balance?
Makubuya: The word nil was written in the evening after I had fully paid him.
Judge: When did you sign these receipts?
Makubuya: After I received these goods.
Judge: Look at the handwritings, is it indicated anywhere that not paid for?

Makubuya: I don’t see it.
Judge: If you had moved with that receipt you received in the morning with the word paid, was there anything to show you had not paid?
Makubuya:  I had not paid but those people know me.
Judge:  Thank you. And you can go. (Next witness enters).
Okalany: Please tell court your names.
Mugoya: I am Francis Mugoya [44-year-old Christian resident in Matugga; self-employed and lectures Tourism at an institute in Mengo].
Okalany: Where were you on 11th July 2010?
Mugoya: It was a Sunday and I had visitors who had come from UK to do a mission of constructing a school in Bwaise. These visitors, some of them Ugandans, included Ronnie Ssebunya, Larry, Chris, Joan, Thomas, Henry, Francis, Bache, Emily and Bam.
Okalany: What happened?
Mugoya: I took them to Bwaise church, we later had lunch and we were to watch final World Cup finals between Spain and Netherland and we chose Ethiopian village. We reached there at around 5pm.  We were joined by Peter Mutabaazi who died on the scene and four Ugandans.

Okalany: Did you know the Ugandans before that day?
Mugoya: Mutabaazi was my friend for ten years and was a member of Bwaise church; Bache was working at the church – I knew them closely. I knew Ivan also as a friend from the same Bwaise church. I had worked with Ssebunya for 15 years.
Okalany: Where was Ethiopian village?
Mugoya: At Kabalagala, along Ggaba road. When we got there, we organized a table for the 11 of us. They served us food and we were all happy. The march started and towards the end, we had a blast and an explosion.
Okalany: Where exactly were you seated?
Mugoya: We sat on a table close to a big screen; I was by the side of the table.  Does that make sense?
Okalany: Yes, how far were you from the place where the explosion came from? That’s   in terms of metres?

Mugoya: I can’t estimate. I heard an explosion and saw smoke in front of me. I thought it was a projector that went off. I sat next to Larry. I tried to push her and struggled to run a way from where I was but the floor was slippery. I managed to leave the place but I didn’t know where I was going because power had gone off. I got away to the restaurant within the compound where there was light. I checked myself and realized I was okay but I had human fresh all over me. I decided to go back where I was but couldn’t reach because of the commotion. I met Joan limping with blood on her face and a broken leg. I opened the van and took her there. I went back and saw Larry, she was limping and confused. I pushed her in the car.  Joan told me Emily her granddaughter was not okay.

When I went back I saw Emily rolling on the ground with all her clothes burnt, she was in her pant. I asked an Ethiopian gentleman to help me take her to the van. I begged this gentleman to carry on his lap. They brought an Eritrean gentleman who was also in bad shape and placed him on the floor of the van and another lady was put in the seat behind the vehicle.

I rushed them to Mulago hospital and unfortunately nurses could not help us. I looked for a stretcher and I put Emily first because she was badly off and took her  into the examination room. There was no bed for us to put her because they were all full.  We asked one of the patients in the casualty ward to give us space and I managed to put Emily on the bed and she was put on drip. We got Roy as well but didn’t go in the examination room and others walked. We put the Eritrean man on the stretcher and he was declared dead by a doctor and we put his body on the veranda.

Okalany: Do you know what happened with the rest of your team?
Mugoya: While still at Mulago, a patrol police truck brought Chris with a broken leg and other injured people and he was taken into the examination room. I contacted the American embassy and in 30 minutes they tried to respond. I asked police to assist me take the [Eritrean’s body] in the mortuary before I went back to Kabalagala.
Kasiriivu: [Yunus] I am objecting to the meandering of the evidence. Your role, my lord, is to guide. We don’t dispute the bombing but prosecution is just trying to seek public sympathy. They should concentrate on proving who bombed; that’s the dispute we are having. 
Judge: The evidence happened when the witness was there. Prosecution has brought him to testify to the blasts and taking victims and dead bodies to Mulago. This is not LC court, but a court of judicature. Every element of the charge must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Kasiriivu: When shall we finish?
Judge: We can’t decide for prosecution, they can produce 1,000 witnesses.

Okalany: My lord, on several occasions the defence has tried to show   that we don’t know what we are doing. One Kasiriivu who is insulting us [Tamale style] used to copy notes and has been in Europe for a long time but he missed being taught good manners. (To the witness) What happened?
Mugoya: We went back to Kabalagala and found the place cordoned off by police. They told us the bodies were transported to Mulago hospital and we decided to go to IHK [International Hospital Kampala] where I found the Americans Thomas and his mother Pamela as those admitted. I didn’t see them because they were in ICU.
Judge: Don’t assume court knows ICU.
Mugoya: Intensive Care Unit. The other four Ugandans were also there but we couldn’t see them either. We couldn’t trace Peter, Francis and Rachael at both Mengo and Nsambya but we saw them the following day at Mulago mortuary.
Judge: You didn’t see them, but saw their bodies.

Okalany: How did you know they were there?
Mugoya: That was the only place to go and look for them after checking elsewhere.
Okalany: Who went to the mortuary first?
Mugoya: People from Watoto, a sister church. There was a mass to pray for the souls of Pastor Peter and Bache which was attended by the former vice president Gilbert Bukenya. Francis’ body was transported to Rodvic’s place.
Okalany: Do you know what eventually happened to the surviving Americans?

Mugoya: We transferred two of them to South Africa and two to Nairobi for further treatment. Ronnie remained behind because he was badly injured.
Okalany: You are confirming that out of your team only three people died.
Mugoya: Yes, five were severally injured and the rest had minor injuries. For me, I  only had hearing problem.
Okalany: We’re done.
Alaka: We have no questions.

The case is adjourned.

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