In the mid 1990’s around this time, businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba (Haba) received a lucrative deal. The deal was about supplying hides and skins to some powerful business people in Europe. The hides’ mogul, upon the billions landing into his hands, is assumed to have diverted the funds to building shopping arcades, petrol stations, buying chunks of land around town and latest cars as well as leasing public markets.
Meantime, the lanky trader would from time to time hang onto telling this and that falsehood to the Europeans who had wired the monies and by this time, were now growing edgy of waiting for the goods. With the European guys threatening to heighten matters, Haba thought of a creative scheme (excuse the jest), to get out of the humiliating mess.
Let`s tell the deception this wily guy conjured up. Haba went about gathering hides from here and there. Having assembled the damn things, the sly Haba sauntered into UPA, an insurance firm headquartered along Kimathi Avenue. Purpose? To purchase an insurance policy to cover the supposed hides he had by now piled up.
The clueless insurers fell for both the money and the foolery. Events that ensued therefrom would give the impression that the insurers didn’t mind enough to carry out ample inquiries to establish the quality of the goods they were undertaking.
This is how, perhaps, the insurers ended up hurriedly writing the policy and tendering copies of the same to the charlatan. After getting the policy into his grasp, Haba sat back and laughed at the insurers as the hides, meanwhile, kept going from bad to worse.
He later on, seemingly shipped the damned merchandise to Europe where the White guys he had picked funds from, quickly rejected the rubbish. But other accounts have it that Haba didn’t dispatch the goods to Europe at all. It is thought, as per this account, the Ugandan guy simply contacted the buyers to report how the hides had gone bad. And to inform them how he was now briskly chasing for compensation from the insurers.
After the insurers had held onto compensation, Haba filed a lawsuit which UPA in particular, and the insurance industry at large, ended up grappling with. The trader put in a legal claim against UPA worth tens of billions of shillings. Haba won the lawsuit in the high court. But he lost on appeal after the lawyers for the insurance firm skillfully dissected the filthy game for the justices of the High Court. In between, rumors had leaked indicating how the trader had been commandeered in Italy.
It all started with the Italians apparently luring the Ugandan man into a meeting in order for the parties to hold a close tête-à-tête over the deal that had gone bad. The exasperated buyers instead exploited the meeting to hijack the trader before demanding for a full refund of their funds with sizeable interest and fines.
It is understood the terrified captive contacted his godfathers back in Kampala, some of whom, he was working for, begging them to kindly rescue him. It is further understood the big guys in Kampala organized the funds and the substantial payoffs the White guys were asking for and punctually wired the same to Europe. The Whites thereafter released Basajjabalaba with a severe warning never ever again to play around with their hard gotten cash.
Enjoy our weekly flashbacks on different stories every monday…
- Mr. Stephen Kasozi Muwambi is a seasoned crime investigative writer, majoring in judicial-based stories. His two decades’ experience as a senior investigative journalist has made him one of the best to reckon on in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected]
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