The Director of Public Prosecutions, Jane Frances Abodo, has made a significant decision to withdraw charges of murder and kidnap with intent to demand a ransom against Patrick Kasaija, also known as Pato, the primary suspect in the alleged murder of Susan Magara.
This development implies that nine other suspects will remain indicted, awaiting trial for the tragic murder that transpired on February 7, 2018. It was on this fateful day that Susan Magara was kidnapped along Kabaka Anjagala road with the sinister intention of demanding a ransom.
According to Senior State Attorney Irene Nakimbugwe from the DPP’s office, the trial for these nine remaining suspects is set to commence next Monday. The prosecution is expected to present a substantial body of evidence with approximately 40 witnesses to bolster their case.
At the time of her untimely demise, Susan Magara held the position of cashier at Bwendeiro dairy farm. She was held captive for nearly three weeks in February 2018 as her abductors negotiated with her family for a staggering USD1 million (approximately Shs 3.6 billion) ransom.
Tragically, after allegedly receiving USD200,000 (about Shs 700 million) of the ransom money, the kidnappers callously took the life of Susan Magara and discarded her body in Kitiko village, located between Kigo and Kajjansi along the Entebbe expressway on February 27, 2018.
Following these heinous events, the police apprehended nine individuals suspected of being involved in Magara’s abduction and murder.
Pato, who was the prime suspect, was later extradited from South Africa where he had sought refuge after the tragic incident.
The Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court subsequently committed these nine suspects to the High Court for trial regarding Susan Magara’s murder. The accused individuals include Abas Buvumbo, Yusuf Lubega (a 32-year-old boda boda rider), Hussein Wasswa (22 years old, hawker), Muzamiru Ssali (27 years old, boda boda rider), Hassan Kato Miiro, Hajara Nakandi (a 35-year-old teacher), Abubaker Kyewolwa (30 years old, businessman), Mahad Kasalita (an Imam at Usafi Mosque), and Ismail Bukenya.
Notably, Susan Magara was allegedly the initial victim of a kidnap-for-ransom scheme devised by one Yakub Byensi, a former combatant with the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels who shared a hometown with Magara. The scheme also involved the second accused, Yusuf Lubega, who had previously worked in Container Village alongside Magara’s mother.
Armed with insider information, the suspects allegedly began tailing Magara until they abducted her in Lungujja on her way home.
They initially took her to Hajara Nakandi’s residence in Nateete and later to Amir Bukenya’s home in Konge II Makindye. Here, they resorted to dismembering two of her fingers, which they sent to Magara’s family to emphasize their determination to follow through with their sinister plan.
The prosecution claims that, following the reception of the $200,000 ransom, the suspects executed their tragic plan on February 27.
They purportedly suffocated Magara using a polythene bag, fearing that she could have easily identified them given the duration of her captivity. On February 28, the suspects, led by Yusuf Lubega, allegedly transported Magara’s body in Nakandi’s vehicle and abandoned it in Kitiko.
The vehicle was traced back to Yusuf Lubega, who was subsequently apprehended along with his accomplices from Usafi Mosque. The prosecution asserted that they have collected various exhibits, including property acquired by the suspects using the ransom money. These items include land titles and motor vehicles, among other assets.
The suspects, as per their alleged confessions, did not originally intend to end Magara’s life. While being held captive at Nakandi’s residence, Magara overheard a conversation among Nakandi’s visitors who mentioned her name, unknowingly revealing her presence.
Upon learning of this, a meeting was convened at Usafi Mosque, where the suspects deliberated two options for Magara – release her or take her life.
The prosecution contends that releasing Magara would have exposed the kidnappers, as she could have identified Nakandi while arresting Nakandi would likely lead to additional arrests. Regrettably, they chose the latter, ultimately and brutally ending Susan Magara’s life.