THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF UGANDA
(CORUM: ODOKI,CJ.,ODER,TSEKOOKO, KAROKORA, AND
CRIMINAL APPEAL No.6 OF 2003.
[Appeal from a Judgment of the Court of Appeal at Kampala
(Mukasa-Kikonyogo,DCJ, Mpagi-Bahigeine and Berko, JJ.A.) dated 17th
February, 2003, in Criminal Appeal 59 of 2001]
REASONS FOR THE
JUDGMENT OF THE COURT
KASAIJA EMMANUEL, the
appellant, unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeal against his
conviction, by the High Court, of murder. Hence
The facts accepted by the two courts below are simple. The appellant was a
resident of Mubuku Trading Centre where he, Edson Kule
(PW2) and Wamala John
engaged in the business of repairing bicycles. The
deceased lived in a different subcounty called Bughoye, but for a
before his death on 2/6/1998, he was operating a red motorcycle in
ferrying passengers in a business popularly known
as bodaboda in Mubuka Trading
Centre, among other places.
For about a week, Edson Kule saw the appellant sharpening a knife which he
had fabricated from a handle of a metallic pail apparently
to be used for his
own security. The knife was about a foot long. The appellant wrapped the
fabricated knife in a cloth and rubber
straps. On 2/6/1998, Kule and Wamala were
with the appellant in the Trading Centre during the afternoon. It is not clear
the appellant left their company. But about 7.00 p.m the deceased
went to the Trading Centre looking for the appellant who owed him
Wamala directed the deceased to the appellant who was in a hotel. It appears
that Kule advised the deceased to go home.
At about 7.30 p.m. Kule and Wamala
saw the appellant carried by the deceased on the latter's motor cycle
the direction of the home of Imelda Kabasita (PW4). Soon
thereafter the deceased ran to the home of Imelda while making an alarm
declaring that he had been stabbed by the appellant. He was bleeding profusely
and his intestines had come out of the abdomen through
a cut wound around the
umbilical area. He was in pain and crying. He declared that he was cut by the
appellant. He requested Imelda
and Jane Nahori(PW5) to be taken to hospital.
Both Imelda and Jane Nahori who lived in the same homestead, provided cloths
the wound of the deceased was covered by the people who answered the
alarm.The deceased was then taken to hospital. Apparently he
died on the way.
The appellant disappeared from the village.
At the trial the appellant denied the offence and put up an alibi. In his
unsworn defence, the appellant claimed that on 5/5/1998,
he joined the ADF rebel
Movement and went to the bush in Kamwenge District in Western Uganda from
where he was captured
by UPDF soldiers on 4/6/1998, taken to Muhoti
Army Barracks in Fort Portal, from which he was taken to Kasese Army Officers
The learned trial judge believed the prosecution evidence on the basis that
there was ample circumstantial evidence against the appellant.
the appellant's defence and convicted and sentenced the appellant to death. His
appeal to the Court of Appeal was
dismissed. He has now appealed to this Court.
The memorandum of appeal contains two grounds of appeal. However, Mr.
counsel for the appellant, abandoned the second ground,
quite properly in our view, because that ground which was a complaint about
evaluation of evidence, was similar to ground two in the Court of Appeal where
it had been abandoned. We think there was no merit
in that complaint.
The remaining ground one reads as follows: -
"That the learned Justices erred in law and fact for upholding that the
appellant participated in the murder of the deceased".
heard Mr. Ddamulira-Muguluma, counsel for the appellant, and Mr. Vincent Wagona,
Principal State Attorney, for the respondent,
and dismissed the appeal. We
promised to give our reasons for our decision. We now give those
Counsel for the appellant submitted that the Court of Appeal erred when it
held that the appellant killed the deceased. He contended
that the evidence of
Kule and Wamala does not connect the appellant with the murder of the deceased
but only shows that the two witnesses
saw the appellant in Mubuku Trading
Centre. That there is no evidence proving that on the fateful day the appellant
was seen bearing
the knife produced in Court and exhibited as evidence and that
the chain link in handling the knife was broken and the break was
He also argued, in effect, that the dying declaration allegedly made by
the deceased to Imelda (PW4) and Jane
(PW5) to the effect that it was the
appellant who had stabbed him was inconclusive because there is no proof that
the two witnesses
revealed the dying declaration to the people who answered the
alarm or to any police officer, especially D/IP Nambwire (PW8) who
scene on 3/6/96. Lastly, learned counsel argued that the learned trial judge was
"biased" and misdirected the assessors
when he put the question-
"Was the accused authorised to kill?"
in his summing up
the evidence and the law to the assessors.
Mr. Vincent Wagona supported the
decisions of the Courts below. While conceding that there was no direct
evidence, he argued that
there was ample irresistible
proving that it is the appellant who murdered the deceased. He also argued that
despite the break in the chain
of evidence about the murder weapon, such break
is not fatal to the prosecution case. The learned Principal State
in effect, contended that the dying declaration was credible and the
two courts acted properly when they relied on it.
We have no doubt in our minds that there was ample circumstantial evidence to
support the conviction of the appellant.
Kule and Wamala had been engaged in the business of bicycle repairing with
the appellant. They both knew the appellant very well.
There has been no any
plausible explanation as to why the two witnesses should say they were with the
appellant in the Centre up
to just about an hour before the deceased was stabbed
and that they saw the appellant and the deceased both riding on the latter's
bodaboda driving in the direction of Imelda's home before the deceased ran to
that home crying and declaring that he was stabbed
by the appellant.
Further these two witnesses and Jane (PW5) were the last persons to see the
appellant in the company of the deceased, while the deceased
was alive and
obviously well because he was riding his motorcycle. Hardly an hour elapsed
before the deceased run to the home of
Imelda and Jane and named the appellant
as his assailant.
Then there is the dying declaration of the deceased made to Imelda (PW4) and
Jane (PW5). The appellant in his evidence claimed that
the two women have
implicated him because the husband, or boyfriend, of Jane was one of the first
two suspects to be arrested and
as he was released, the two ladies are
protecting him. In our opinion this claim by the appellant has no foundation.
Jane gave evidence
and this specific matter wasn't put to her. Whatever the case
whether or not Jane's boyfriend was initially arrested, does not affect
evidence against the appellant. There is no doubt at all from the evidence of
Matte Saulo(PW6) the LC Chairman and D/IP
Nambwire (PW8) that by
3/6/1998, barely a day after the murder of the deceased, the appellant was the
first suspect in
the murder of the deceased. D/IP Nambwire started looking for
appellant right on the first day (3/6/1998) after he learnt that the
appellant was the suspect and that he had borded a vehicle
The appellant's disappearance from the village cannot be explained on any
other reasonable hypothesis than that he was fleeing because
conscience. We think that both the trial judge and the Court of Appeal were
fully justified in believing the testimonies
of Kule (PW2), Wamala (PW3), Imelda
(PW4), Jane (PW5) and D/IP Nambwire.
The evidence of Kule and of Wamala to the effect that on 2/6/1998 at about
7.00 p.m, the deceased went up to them inquiring about
the whereabouts of the
appellant, who owed him money and that the two witnesses directed the deceased
to the hotel where the appellant
was coupled with the fact that Kule and Wamala
soon thereafter saw the deceased together with the appellant riding away on the
Motorcycle all show that the deceased knew the appellant well and
that apparently a person could be sighted and recognised and identified
time. No where did either Imelda or Jane or indeed Wamala suggest that the
deceased was in a state in which he could not
recollect anything which happened
to him. The combined effect of all this shows that the deceased could not have
been mistaken as
to the identity of his assailant. Clearly, therefore, the dying
declaration was not only credible but was also reliable and the two
acted properly in relying on it. We think that the appellant was properly
convicted of murder.
Therefore the ground argued before us must fail.
It was for these reasons that we dismissed the appeal.
Dated at Mengo this 22nd day of July 2004.
B. J. Odoki
A. H. O. Oder
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME
J.W. N Tsekooko
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME