In a significant legal development, the Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court in Kampala has handed down convictions and penalties in a case of fraud involving land worth shs330 million. The court found a city lawyer guilty and fined him shs25 million, while two land brokers were sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The convicted individuals are lawyer Kenneth Kwesiga Bateyo, 65, from Kwesiga Bateyo and Company Advocates, Ssalongo Kaggwa George William, 64, and Chrispus Ssali, 41. They were charged with obtaining money by false pretense, forgery of a sales agreement, procuring the execution of documents by false pretense, and conspiracy to commit a felony.
According to the prosecution, in 2019, the trio, along with Irene Acheng, who is already serving an 8-year jail term in connection with the case, presented a false sales agreement for a piece of land in Lubowa, Wakiso district. The land, measuring 0.57 hectares, was sold to Rashid Ndawula for shs330 million. The two brokers presented Acheng as the landowner, while the lawyer prepared the sales agreement for a fee of shs50 million.
Chief Magistrate Sarah Tusiime expressed her concern over the prevalence of fraud in Kampala and its surrounding areas. She highlighted the psychological impact on the victim and noted the convicts’ lack of remorse and their audacity throughout the proceedings.
In her ruling, the trial magistrate found overwhelming evidence that the convicted trio, along with Acheng, were involved in the fraudulent scheme that defrauded Ndawula of shs330 million in a bogus land sale. The two land brokers were sentenced to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay a fine of shs2 million each for procuring the execution of documents by false pretense. They were also sentenced to two years in prison and fined shs3 million each for making false documents and conspiracy to commit a felony. Additionally, they received three-year prison terms for uttering a false document and conspiracy to commit a felony.
The lawyer, on the other hand, was fined shs2 million for procuring the execution of documents by false pretense and shs5 million for making false documents. He was also fined shs5 million for obtaining money by false pretense. The court acquitted the lawyer of the forgery charge.
As part of the ruling, the two land brokers were ordered to pay shs100 million each in compensation to the victim, Ndawula. The chief magistrate emphasized that the convicts, despite being breadwinners for their families, had abused their positions and betrayed the trust placed in them by society.
The sentences are to be served concurrently, with the two land brokers facing the longest punishment of 10 years in prison, while the lawyer is required to pay a total of shs25 million in fines.
Earlier, the defense lawyer representing Bateyo attempted to challenge the jurisdiction of the trial magistrate, claiming that her recent appointment as an acting deputy registrar of the High Court disqualified her from delivering the sentence. However, Chief Magistrate Tusiime dismissed the objection, stating that there was no issue with her presiding over the case she had been handling from the beginning.