In my mother tongue, there is a saying to the effect that a monkey cannot officiate over a judgement to do with burning a forest. The wisdom in this is easy to see. The forest being the natural habitat for monkeys and being their hunting ground also, they cannot be naturally expected to preside over, let alone render a just and fair judgement in a case whose aim is to raze down a forest.
In the same vein, I hardly can bring myself to believe that magistrates and judges can render a just and fair trial to Stanley Kisambira, the Judiciary’s driver. Kisambira got into trouble with his bosses in the Judiciary after going on record to state that he was so aggrieved by the little pay him and his collogues earns.
Because of that, Kisambira stated he was mostly going to end up ramming a judge he drives into a lorry and kill him off, together with his bodyguard. But to this, we shall return. Let’s first try to analyze what Kisambira meant. With the greatest respect, I beg to submit that what and how judiciary understood Kisambira’s clip to mean isn’t what it means.
What I think Kisambira meant, and I beg to be corrected, is that because of the misery wrought on them drivers by the poor pay, they are stressed, angry and depressed psychologically, and one can therefore, in that state of mind, easily end up causing an accident thereby killing the principle in the car, along with their bodyguards.
By way of example, Kisambira added that he was disturbed by the fact that the judge he drives could oftentimes send him over to the supermarket to buy provisions for himself, and his family, worth over five hundred shillings. Yet Kisambira himself couldn’t afford to buy for his family items worth merely fifty thousand shillings.
Now, if what I understood he meant was indeed what he meant, Kisambira was trying to warn those concerned that it’s dangerous for a man in his state of mind to drive a judge because he can end up causing an accident and killing him. What he meant and as I myself understood it, was as precise as that. And I strongly believe that medical doctors can bear Kisambira out regarding what he stated.
Subsequently, one cannot rehabilitate a man in a state of mind Kisambira states he was in, by merely sending him to jail. What can be done to help such a man in Kisambira’s state of mind would be to refer him to the relevant medical facilities, to medically counsel him and with a view to psychologically rehabilitate him.
In any case, how is the mere sending to jail of Kisambira would be expected itself to cure the gaping discrepancies in the salaries earned by the judges as against those earned by the junior staff? For, to do that, can only work negatively by giving the impression that the judiciary is no longer the Temple of Justice, which is what it’s supposed to be but a Temple of Injustice instead.
Credibly, the Judiciary’s public relations department had started off on a commendable note by promising to do something about the meagre wages earned by their lower cadres. But not until, the Judiciary`s mightier, the Chief Accounting Officer, Pius Bigirimana stepped out and insisted that Kisambira had to face the law. Ok, that wouldn’t have been a problem may be, if only the judiciary is going to hold a just and fair trial against Kisambira.
Sorry, I am afraid that’s likely not going to happen, frankly speaking. I have my reasons for having to state what I have stated. Kindly read them. While commenting about what Kisambira is said to have stated via his self-recorded clip, Bigirimana directed him to apologize or else get fired from his job with the judiciary. But, in my tongue they discourage us to rule in favor of one party to the dispute before we have heard from the other party.
Fortunately, even there in the courts of law where Bigirimana serves currently, it’s a cardinal principle of law that no man shall be condemned unheard. Now, here is them telling Kisambira to apologize before he could be heard. This, followed by threatening him with dismissal. Wasn’t Mr. Bigirimana going against the dictates of justice as ably illustrated above?
But yet, the Judiciary is enjoined to serve justice to all manner of man without fear or favor nor ill-will. The second sign that Kisambira may not be accorded a just and fair trial manifested itself when he was finally arraigned in court, for the reading out of his charges. Can you imagine, Kisambira’s case was allocated to a magistrate who was, alas, conspicuously absent!
For all intents and purposes, the trick in this was for the judiciary to make it next to impossible for Kisambira to apply for bail, which is what is a right otherwise granted to him by our Constitution. The magistrate who read out the charges to him was not the one who had been selected by whoever had selected him, to be in charge of Kisambira’s case! How was the suspect then supposed to begin asking for bail after being informed so?
But even if the magistrate was genuinely absent, the one who read the charges to the suspect should have gone ahead to entertain Kisambira’s bail application, and then, at least deferred the delivery of the ruling to a date when his colleague who had been allocated the case had finally reported back to work. As a matter of fact, magistrates and judges have lately devised the dubious tricks of deliberately abstaining from court.
That stance, in order to deny bail to a category targeted suspect, and or prolong the incarceration of such suspects without trial. The former Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma started it all. And it now looks like his colleagues have since learned from him to deliberately go AWOL when service has called.
Memorably, Kavuma one day abruptly abandoned court when his colleague, Justice George William Kanyeihamba had gone there to file a constitutional petition. That petition was faulting the President for threatening to ban bail and also seeking in the meantime, a temporary order barring the President from the continued uttering of such threats pending the hearing and disposal of his petition by the Constitutional Court.
Not only did Kavuma go AWOL alone, but not before he had issued orders to all the staff at the registry to go away, also in order to fail Kanyeihamba’s filing of his petition. Defeated and lost for words, Kanyeihamba would resort to wailing right there before the press cameras and videos. Recall also a very vivid and recent example which involved the trial judge in the murder and terrorism criminal charges against lawmakers Allan Aloysius Ssewanyana and Muhammad Ssegirinya.?
This Lady Justice oftentimes deliberately kept away from court sessions yet the same she had set beforehand to preside over! That was interpreted as a ploy by the judge not to attend to the legislators’ application for bail so as to ensure their continued incarceration which is what the powers-that-be wished. The other reason was to avoid grilling the State about why they were delaying for two years, to complete investigations into the matter.
As I wind up, I can’t help it but register my disappointment over Mr. Bigirimana’s failure to help fix the problem of meagre salaries for the lower cadres in the judiciary, yet after serving as the Permanent Secretary in the labor ministry’s docket for many years. Before finally taking leave of these issues, I would want to wonder loudly and also, why the Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny Dollo wasn’t heard or seen at all pleading for Kisambira yet he had previously done so on behalf of Odonga Otto.
Recall Odonga Otto had been asked to report to the police over commandeering a lorry truck beating up people for felling trees in Gulu before burning and trading in charcoal. Whereas the Chief Justice stated it was wrong for the police to harass a man fighting to save Gulu from turning into a desert, he didn’t state anything in defense of Kisambira at all
Yet the Judiciary’s driver was also fighting for his employment rights and had, moreover, not injured anyone by that far as Odonga Otto, who Owiny Dollo pleaded in his defense. Was it because Kisambira isn’t an Acholi by tribe like Odonga Otto, which is what the Chief Justice himself is? Or what?
- 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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