By Siraje Lubwama
Jailed Johnson Kamya Wavamunno, the young brother to city tycoon Gordon Wavamunno has been transferred from Luzira maximum security prison to Mbarara prison pending his expected release in December this year.
Wavamunno and two of his co-accused Bonde Semei Mwesigwa and a soldier, Private Paddy Baryeijuka, were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999, for aggravated bank robbery and murder using a firearm.
After a successful petition by a one Kigula in the Supreme Court, it was ruled that prisoners on death row who are not hanged in three years should apply for review in High Court to have their sentences commuted to life in prison. Prisoners on life in prison could walk free after 20 years.
Pidson Wavamunno, another elder brother to Johnson Wavamunno told this reporter last month that they had received information that his brother Johnson was transferred to Mbarara about two months back on his own request pending his expected release soon.
When contacted for a comment on Thursday, the Prisons’ mouth piece Frank Baine confirmed it was true Johnson woul be released ‘sometime’ this year but could not specify the exact period. “Revealing the period for people soon to be released is an administrative matter, it is risky for the inmate. Take it that he will soon be released,” said Baine.
Chris Rwakasisi, a senior ex-prisoner and former security minister in Milton Obote’s regime confirmed to Spy Uganda that indeed Johnson Wavamunno requested the prisons Commissioner in writing requesting his transfer from Luzira to Mbarara prison pending his release “at around the end of this year”.
In 2009 president Museveni pardoned Rwakasisi and Brig. Ali Fadhul, a former governor and later commanding officer of the then Simba battalion in Mbarara in 70s. Both had served in prison for 24 and 22 years respectively.
On February 29, 1996 Barclays Bank staff was coming from Entebbe International Airport with $500,000, which they were bringing to Kampala. As they approached Kitoro, they were stopped by gun-wielding men in military uniform. A scuffle ensued and an escort Police officer identified as Wedulo was shot dead while the others fled. The thugs then grabbed half of the amount of money and took off.
Meanwhile, Johnson Wavamunno, a businessman then, had borrowed $20,000 (then sh40m) from then Third Prime Minister Paul Etyang. Five days after the robbery, on March 4, 1996, Wavamunno went to pay off Etyang’s debt. However, Etyang later noticed that the dollars paid to him were part of the stolen money because Police had published the serial numbers. Etyang reported the matter to Police.
Wavanno escapes Arrest,Flees to Germany
Upon receiving a tip off that he was on 24/7 security radar, Wavamunno beat security and fled to Germany! He later acquired an European Union passport under the names Thomas Kabanda, supposedly born in Congo. This was after his Ugandan passport, number A027083, acquired in 1992, expired in 1997.
He later left Germany and settled in Mombasa, Kenya. A Police detective John Martin Opio travelled to Mombasa on a tip off from Kenyan Police, arrested Wavamunno and brought him to Kampala.
After three years of trial, the High Court Judge Constance Byamugisha sentenced the then 49-year-old Wavamunno to death on February 9, 1999 for aggravated robbery and murder.
He appealed and lost twice. He stayed on death row until the constitutional court ruled in 2006 in the historical Susan Kigula Supreme Court appeal against death penalty that if a death sentence is not executed within three years, it is automatically turned into life imprisonment, which means 20 yrs.
Born in a business family in Rugaaga, Isingiro district, Wavamunno started out as a trader in Mbarara town before moving to Kampala.His house was sold while in prison.
Johnson was the proprietor of Spear Tours and Travel, based in Nakawa, Kampala.