On Wednesday this week, Buganda Road Magistrates Marion Mangei and Siena Owomugisha sentenced city socialite Honest Kavuma alias Champagne Papi to 30 years in prison.
In March this year, Kavuma was charged with 60 offences at Buganda road Court, when he denied all of them, he was remanded to Luzira Murchison bay prison.
He was charged with offences of obtaining money by false pretense.
State alleges that between 2019 and 2022, Kavuma obtain Shs.60m from city businessman Yasin Ssegawa, brother to controversial city businessman Hamis Kiggundu, the proprietor of Ham enterprises Limited after convincing him that the money was going to be used to buy Nakivubo turf from Netherlands.
It is alleged that Kavuma also obtained 30,000 euros from tycoon Kiggundu for trips to Netherlands to procure the turf which was going to be used in Nakivubo war Memorial stadium which is still under construction.
It is alleged that Kavuma further obtained credit of Shs.30m from Ssegawa to settle a land dispute in Munyonyo and another Shs.50m for trips to Netherland.
He also forged letters claiming that Mathias Schauler, German’s ambassador to Uganda, Daniel Hogele, Bayern Munich football club Director for International Business and Strategy, Christopher Baldwin, another Director in Bayern Munich, had recommended him as the football club’s representative in Uganda and that he had been given permission to legally make transactions on behalf of Bayern Munich.
Kavuma was also charged with uttering false documents for accountability and forging land titles for land located in Munyonyo, he denied all the offences claiming that he was forced to sign them.
FORCED TO ENTER DEAL AND SURRENDER HIS PROPERTIES
After Buganda Road Court magistrates denied him court bail, Kavuma, through his family members approached tycoon Kiggundu and his brother Ssegawa to find ways of settling the matter out of Court.
This was after his lawyers warned him that he had a bad case and chances were high that he was going to be convicted.
Sources said that Kavuma instructed his family members to approach the complainants and see how they can settle the matter and immediately, negotiations kicked off.
Sources said that the complainants told him to return Shs.8bn. They told him that Shs.7bn is what he took from them fraudulently and the Shs.1bn was to compensate them for their time he wasted.
“When he was told what the complainants wanted, he nearly collapsed because he did not have any money on his account. The only option he had was to surrender part of his properties to the complainants to recover their money. The next move was negotiations on the worthiness of the properties he had put on table,” a source who was involved in the negotiations told theGrapevine.
The source said that Kavuma surrendered his land titles in Munyonyo valued at Shs.5bn to convince the complainants and even signed the settlement agreement.
A source at Buganda Road court tipped theGrapevine that on Monday, a production warrant was issued to Luzira prison authorities to produce Kavuma in Court on Wednesday which was executed.
Kavuma was produced at Buganda Road court and smuggled into Court’s cells to dodge court reporters.
Fortunately, the mighty Grapevine was already on standby after getting wind of the move and we were already on the ground.
We saw Kavuma being smuggled into court by prison officers to magistrate Owomugisha’s chambers.
The Magistrate was furious upon learning that journalists were present. He ordered them to move out of her chambers because they were not invited and were not party to the proceedings.
When we decided to wait in the corridors of Buganda Road Court, we saw Kavuma being escorted from Owomugisha’s chambers to Mangei’s chambers.
Sources at Buganda Road Court disclosed that the matter was supposed to be in an open court but the magistrate changed her mind at the last minute and directed that the suspect be produced in her chambers.
Just like Owomugisha did, Mangei also stopped journalists from covering the proceedings and directed them to move out of her chambers.
In all the proceedings, Ssegawa was present but was very elusive and hid from our journalists.
However, we later had access to both Court rulings and established that Kavuma was convicted on all offences after entering a plea bargain with the complainants and he pleaded guilty.
This move was agreed upon by the complainants and Kavuma as the easiest way to free him since he had paid them.
According to both rulings, Kavuma was sentenced to a suspended sentence which means that he was released from Luzira prison.
By Sengooba Alirabaki