Uganda’s Minister of State for Labour, Employment and Industrial relations Herbert Kabafunzaki has been charged before the Anti-Corruption Court with three counts that include corruption and conspiracy to commit a felony.
The Rukiga County MP appeared before Chief Magistrate Agnes Alum jointly with his political assistant Brian Mugabo and an interior designer Bruce Lubowa.
The accused persons, Kabafunzaki and Lubowa denied the offence.
Kabafunzaki’s co-accused, Mugabo, pleaded guilty and was charged with corruption for soliciting UGX15m to ‘kill the case’ against Hamid.
Mugabo also said that everything stated by prosecution is true and he accepted hiding UGX5m which had been accepted by Kabafunzaki.
He said his action was to protect the minister from punishment.
However, Minister Herbert Kabafunzaki denied all the charges and said that all this was set up.
“The good thing President Museveni knows that I’m innocent. I’m a man of God”, the minister said.
“This is a set up. I didn’t call that man from AYA to meet up. I was at Serena Hotel having lunch with my daughter”, he added.
After the charges, Kabafunzaki’s lawyer sought to apply for bail, saying that the minister is a law abiding citizen and has a permanent place of residence and will fulfill the bail conditions.
Counsel Kenneth Muhangi (Kabafunzaki’s lawyer) presented three sureties as requested by court for bail application.
However, the State prosecutor said that the Minister Kabafunzaki was caught ‘red-handed with a bribe’ & his bail might interfere with evidence.
The State prosecutor asked court for stringent bail terms including hefty amounts of money, passport & a land title and to report to Court weekly.
The judge set aside tomorrow as the day to hear the bail application.
Kabafunzaki and Lubowa denied the offence, but Mugabo admitted having hidden sh5 million that he told court he knew had been accepted by the minister as a bribe – so that Kabafunzaki escapes punishment.
The incident in this case is said by the prosecution to have happened at Serena Hotel in Kampala on April 8 2017, where the trio went after reportedly receiving a call from the complainant in a sex allegation investigation, Mohammed Hami, who is an investor and the chairperson of AYA Group.
Prosecution alleges that the minister conspired with Lubowa to solicit for a bribe of sh15 million between April 6-8 in Kampala and accepted to receive sh 5m million on the fateful date.
Its further alleged that the bribe was to clear Mohammed Hamid from allegations of sexual harassment by his former employee.
They have now been remanded to prison till Wednesday when the court will make a ruling on whether to grant the minister bail.
Prosecution’s Maxim Erizooba objected to the minister’s release on bail saying investigations into the matter are not complete and there is a high likelihood that he will interfere with witnesses, as well as abscond trial due to the overwhelming evidence.
Prosecution also asked that Mugabo who has pleaded guilty be separately imprisoned.