By Andrew Irumba
Kampala: Patrick Kasaija alias Pato, the main suspect in the murder of former accountant Susan Magara, has finally been extradited from South Africa to face charges in here in Uganda.
Pato was flown to Uganda on Wednesday aboard South African airways by a team of detectives led by CID commandant for Kampala Metropolitan Police SSP Benson Olal, SSP Mark Odong with the help of Interpol Uganda. Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson confirmed Pato’s extradition and said that he is being detained at Special Investigations Division in Kireka. Enanga added that Pato has been granted access to his lawyer and that arrangements to interview him and also investigate his defence in the alleged murder of Susan Magara are already in place. The police spokesperson noted that immediately after compiling all necessary documentation the case file will be forwarded to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for perusal and probable sanctioning. Magara, the cashier of Bwendeiro dairy farm was kidnapped and held captive for about three weeks in February this year as her kidnappers negotiated with her family for a USD1 million (about Shs 3.6bn) ransom. After allegedly receiving USD200,000 (about Shs 700m) of the ransom money, the kidnappers killed Magara and dumped her body in Kitiko village between Kigo and Kajjansi along the Entebbe expressway on February 27, 2018.
The police later arrested nine people suspected to have engaged in Magara’s kidnap and murder, although Pato, who was the key suspect, remained at large.Buganda Road Magistrate’s court later committed nine suspects to the High court for trial for Magara’s murder. The committed suspects are Abas Buvumbo, Yusuf Lubega aged 32 (boda boda rider), Hussein Wasswa, 22, (hawker) Muzamiru Ssali, 27, (boda boda rider) Hassan Kato Miiro, Hajara Nakandi, 35, (teacher) Abubaker Kyewolwa, 30, (businessman) Mahad Kasalita, an Imam at Usafi Mosque and Ismail Bukenya. Magara was allegedly the first victim of this kidnap for ransom scheme hatched by a one Yakub Byensi, a former combatant with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels who hails from Bunyoro like Magara and is known to the family, as well accused number two Yusuf Lubega who used to work in Container Village with Magara’s mother. Armed with insider information, the suspects, according to prosecution, started trailing Magara until they kidnapped her in Lungujja on her way home.
They allegedly first took her to Hajara Nakandi’s home in Nateete and later to Amir Bukenya’s home in Konge II Makindye from where they cut off her two fingers that they sent to Magara’s family to show their determination to murder Magara. After receiving the $200,000, according to prosecution, the suspects killed Magara on February 27. They allegedly suffocated her with a polythene bag because she could have easily identified them given the time she had spent in captivity. The suspects, then on February 28 drove Magara’s body using Nakandi’s vehicle and dumped it in Kitiko. The vehicle was allegedly driven by Yusuf Lubega who was later tracked and arrested with his accomplices from Usafi Mosque. Prosecution says it has in possession several exhibits including several properties recovered by police from the suspects that they had purchased using ransom money. Among the recovered items include land titles, motor vehicles (taxis) among others.
According to alleged confessions by the suspects, they never intended to kill Magara but while still being held captive at Nakandi’s home, she (Nakandi) received visitors. During their innocent conversation and unknown to them that Magara was hidden in one of the house’s rooms, they called out Nakandi by name. Magara who was always blindfolded and mouth taped shut had heard Nakandi’s name and picked off the conversations of Nakandi’s visitors. On informing Byensi about what had happened, prosecution says, a meeting was held at Usafi mosque and two options were on table for Magara – be released or be killed. Releasing Magara would expose the kidnappers, they reasoned, since she could easily positively identify Nakandi and arresting Nakandi would lead to more arrests. So they decided to brutally end her life.