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Lawyer Kwesiga Bateyo convicted for land fraud

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court has convicted Kampala City-based advocate Kenneth Kwesiga Bateyo and two others on various charges, including obtaining money by false pretense, forgery of a sales agreement, procuring the execution of documents by false pretense, and conspiracy to commit a felony.

The others are businessman George William Salongo Kagwa, also known as Bonny, and Chrispus Sali, a land broker, residents of Wakimese Zone, Kyengera Town Council, and Katale Seguku, Makindye Sabagabo, Wakiso district respectively.  The former Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Sarah Tusiime, who has since been promoted to the rank of Deputy Registrar, presided over the case and found the accused guilty based on the prosecution evidence, which proved their involvement in defrauding Rashid Ndaula.

According to the court records, on June 28th, 2019, the accused knowingly and fraudulently presented a false sales agreement for a piece of land comprising Block 269, Plot 1349, in Lubowa, Wakiso District, to Ndaula with the intention of selling him the land. They also forged a land title for the same piece of land and presented it to Ndaula.

The prosecution argued that on the same day, with the intent to defraud, the accused obtained Shillings 330,000,000 from Ndaula by falsely claiming that they were selling him a 0.57-hectare piece of land on Block 269, Plot 1349, in Lubowa, Wakiso District. In her decision, Tusiime noted that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that it was Ssalongo Kagwa who introduced the first prosecution witnesses, Noah Feki and Stephen Onyango, to the fraudulent deal.

He took them to the office of Counsel Bateyo Kwesiga at Kwesiga Bateyo and Company Advocates at Uganda House on three different occasions. Bateyo had agreed to prepare the agreement for a fee of 50,000,000 Shillings, putting his law firm’s reputation at stake. While Bateyo was acquitted of counts related to forging a land title and creating a false document, he was convicted of nine other offenses, including uttering a false document and forgery of a land sale agreement.

Bateyo maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings, claiming that he was approached by clients who sought his professional drafting services for the sales agreement and that he had no prior knowledge of the parties involved. However, the Chief Magistrate ruled that there was evidence of common intention among all the accused prior to the transaction. Initially, the convicts were charged alongside Irene Achieng, also known as Frazer Asunta Lubanga, who claimed to be the landowner.

However, Achieng pleaded guilty earlier and received a sentence of eight years for multiple offenses. “Evidence from the investigating Officer Detective Inspector of Police Christine Nabalanyi shows that A1/Kaggwa and A4/Sali collaborated with A2/Achieng and ensured that she acted as the owner of the land. That A3 Counsel Bateyo got to know A2 through A1 Kaggwa and A4 Chris that Counsel Bateyo is the one who handed over the title and Identity Card to the Complainant Rashid,” said Tusiime.

The prosecution, represented by Senior State Attorney Timothy Amerit, requested the court to consider the level of planning and premeditation involved in the offense, the impact on the victim, and Bateyo Kwesiga’s status as a law enforcement officer, among other factors, during the sentencing process. The sentencing is scheduled for this afternoon, while the convicts are in Luzira Prison.