Six men have been sentenced to three years in jail for vandalizing President Yoweri Museveni’s farm in Lutunku village, Lugusuulu Sub County at the border of Sembabule and Gomba district.
The convicts were arrested on December 11, 2016 while in possession of 26 rolls of chain links part of which had been used in fencing president Museveni’s farm.
The six, all residents of Kampala, were identified as Caleb Ahimbisibwe, Jeremy Ssemugenyi, Isaac Mutabike, Johan Muwanguzi, Umar Mugerwa and Charles Serwadda. The six pleaded guilty to the offense and told court that they were selling the chain links to scrap dealers around Kampala.
Prosecution led by Allan Mucunguzi, the Sembabule State Attorney, told court that the accused persons were found with stolen chain-links valued at 53 million Shillings. The chain links had been used to cover a distance of about 1 mile on the farm.
Court heard evidence from 11 witness including two police officers who all pinned the accused persons to the offense. Prosecution also presented three lorry trucks upon which the exhibits had been loaded destined for Kampala.
Sembabule Grade I Magistrate George Miftundida observed in a ruling delivered Thursday, that the accused persons were notorious thieves who braved a long distance from Kampala to Sembabule, an implication that they had a lot of time conspiring to commit the offense. Court also observed that all the accused persons are young men who deliberately chose theft as a way of life other than employing their energies to work.
The magistrate downplayed pleas for pardon by the convicted persons and accordingly sentenced them to three years in jail.
However, court acquitted the Godwin Arinaitwe, the seventh suspect who prosecution alleged that aided the theft with finance, after evidence against him was found to be inconsistent.
The judgment was received with mixed reactions among residents of Sembabule district, where some people considered it too harsh to people that had prayed for leniency, while others say it would contain theft in the area. Godfrey Tumwesigye, a farmer told URN that the area had suffered enough attacks of this nature. He described theft as the biggest threat to pastoralism in the district.