City lawyer Kenneth Kwesiga Bateyo has been ordered by Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court to Shs 86 million or be jailed for 3 years over his involvement in a fraudulent land transaction.
The same court also sentenced businessman George William Salongo Kagwa and land broker Chrispus Sali in the same matter. Court found the trio guilty of several offences, including obtaining money by false pretence, forgery of a sales agreement, procuring the execution of documents by false pretence, and conspiracy to commit a felony.
Former Buganda Road chief magistrate Sarah Tusiime, who has since been elevated to a deputy registrar, read out the sentence on Wednesday evening.
She fined Bateyo Shs 26 million with a default sentence of three years in jail and ordered him to also pay a compensation of Shs 60 million. The magistrate also handed Salongo Kagwa and Chrispus Sali a ten-year jail term and ordered them to compensate the victim Shs 100 million each.
According to court records, on June 28th, 2019, the defendants knowingly presented a false sales agreement and forged a land title for a piece of land in Lubowa, Wakiso district, with the intention of defrauding Rashid Ndaula. The prosecution argued that the accused obtained Shs 330 million from Ndaula by falsely claiming to sell him a 0.57-hectare piece of land.
During the proceedings, evidence showed that Salongo Kagwa introduced the first prosecution witnesses to the fraudulent deal. Bateyo, on three separate occasions, took them to his office at Kwesiga Bateyo and Company Advocates. While Bateyo was acquitted of certain charges related to forgery and false documentation, he was convicted on nine other offences, including uttering a false document and forgery of a land sale agreement.
Bateyo maintained his innocence throughout the trial, stating that he was approached by clients seeking his professional drafting services and claiming no prior knowledge of the parties involved. However, the chief magistrate ruled that there was evidence of common intention among all the accused prior to the transaction.
Initially, the defendants were charged alongside Irene Achieng, who pleaded guilty earlier and received an eight-year sentence for multiple offences. During the sentencing process, the prosecution requested the court to consider the level of planning, the impact on the victim, and Bateyo’s status as a law enforcement officer.
The convicts, in their defence, cited being the sole breadwinners of their families and their advanced age. In delivering the sentence, Tusiime considered factors such as the complainant’s loss, the psychological effect of the case’s prolonged duration since 2019, and the lack of remorse displayed by the convicts. Tusiime also highlighted the prevalence of such crimes in the country, the expectations placed on Bateyo due to his profession, and the faithfulness of the state in attending court proceedings.
She noted that the convicts, as breadwinners, had failed to fulfil their responsibilities as fathers and husbands. Furthermore, the court took note of the convicts’ age and the fact that Salongo Kagwa and Chrispus Sali were the masterminds of the crime.