I do not wish to litigate or interrogate the case of Herbert Kabafunzaki, a Ugandan MP who is accused of corruption, to which he has pleaded not guilty. It is a matter for the courts to settle and it is not the purpose of this post.
My interest is in social status and justice in Uganda. I am struck by a report on Kampala’s 93.3 KFM, quoting one of the reasons given by a state prosecutor for committing the MP and his two co-accused to trial in the High Court of Uganda, instead of a magistrate’s court.
Speaking on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Barbara Kauma, the Principal State Attorney, reportedly informed Ms. Agnes Alum, the presiding chief magistrate, that given the circumstances surrounding this case and the status of the accused persons, a judge would be in the best position to conduct this trial.
This raises a few simple questions: Does social and/or economic status determine justice in Uganda? Is it not the nature of the alleged crime that normally determines where the case is tried? If a person’s social status is the determinant, why is it that Dr. Kizza Besigye, a former government minister, former party leader and former presidential candidate, has been taken to magistrates’ courts for his various alleged crimes against the state? Just curious.