A Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier who shot and killed a lay reader riding on motorcycle with his wife in Kasese District last week has been sentenced to 35 years in prison after the army court found him guilty of murder.
Pte Abraham Lokwap was Tuesday convicted by the Mountain Division court martial sitting for the second day in Kasese District on his own plea of guilty for the murder of Benon Nsimenta attached to Kogore COU (Anglican) under the South Ruwenzori diocese.
His commander Lt. Talent Akampurira was sentenced to 12 months.
The court chairman, Col. Felix Nyero who presided over the trial said Pte Lokwap will serve his sentence at Mubuku government prison in Kasese District while Lt. Akampurira will be incarcerated at Makindye barracks.
However, Pte Jackson Nyero and Pte Joel Otim also attached to the 6th Mountain Brigade Battalion (Hima, Kasese) who had been accused of being accomplices of the convicts were acquitted by the same court.
Nsimenta’s widow, Ms Allen Musimenta who was one of the three prosecution witnesses told court that on June 24, she was riding with her husband on a motorcycle at around 7am heading to their farm in Kanamba village in Karusandara sub-county when they met the soldiers at Karungibati along Hima-Kasese road. They were stopped but one of the soldiers (Pte Lokwap) crossed the road and approached them before shooting her husband at close range without saying a word to them.
They fell off the motorcycle and the soldiers just walked away leaving Musimenta helpless with her dying husband.
In a statement moments after the shooting, the army spokesperson had claimed that the lay reader had been hit by a stray bullet fired by the soldiers in pursuit of ‘some other criminals.’
During Nsimenta’s burial ceremony, Musimenta dismissed the army statement as false and appealed for a thorough investigation before the four soldiers were arrested.
Nsimenta, a father of eight, was to be ordained as a reverend in November this year, according to Ms Musimenta.
Nsimenta’s death adds to the rising causality numbers of the virus-induced lockdown which involved President Museveni banning motorcycles from transporting passengers in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Mr Museveni said health experts had told him that the virus could easily be spread on a motorcycle since there’s no observing social distancing between the passenger and the rider.
As a result, security personnel have on several occasions been accused of brutalizing and in extreme cases killing those allegedly found flouting the presidential directives.