Balondemu Gold Case: Kampala lands boss out on bail

Kampala, (UG): The City Hall court grade one magistrate, Rehema Nassozi has granted bail to embattled Kampala District Land Board Chairperson, David Balondemu, along with his co-accused Geoffrey Mkwe are out on bail.

The duo are jointly accused with businessmen James Jeff Mugisha and Godfrey Mabirizi, of obtaining money by false pretence from a Korean investor and conspiracy to defraud.

According to the state prosecution, the accused persons, along with others still at large, obtained $600,000 between March and November 2021 at the offices of Balondemu and Company Advocates along Parliamentary Avenue in Kampala by falsely pretending to sell 53 kilograms of gold to a Korean investor, Hyun UK Kim. The accused who appeared before court at different intervals last month, denied the charges.

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They sought bail through their respective lawyers, including Caleb Alaka, Evans Ochieng, and Mukasa Mbidde. Balondemu considered the prime suspect, argued that he was an officer of the court with significant and unquestionable legal experience as a lawyer.

He presented several individuals as his sureties, including Dr Richard Lukandwa, a Consultant Physician at the Medical Hub, Richard Collins Kiberu, the Managing Director of C and C Investments and Goldmark Property Limited, his wife Slyvia Bahizi, an employee at Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), and businesswoman Betty Nakayima, dealing in chemicals with Sunrise Luxury SMC.

The prosecution, led by State Attorney Mercy Yamangusho Khaidarah, opposed the bail applications, citing incomplete investigations that could be jeopardized by the release of the accused.

In her ruling, Magistrate Nassozi found the sureties to be substantial and allowed the applications for bail for the lawyers. Balondemu and Mkwe were ordered to pay 20 million Shillings in cash, and their sureties were required to execute a non-cash bond of Shillings 200 million.

They were also ordered to deposit their passports with the court and were barred from leaving the country without court permission.

The co-accused, who were the first to be arrested and sent to prison, were further remanded until November 15, 2023, for the prosecution to verify the documents presented in their bail application and for mention on the progress of investigations.

The ruling was delivered in a crowded courtroom with numerous supporters of Balondemu, dressed in white t-shirts bearing his name and pictures with the inscription “We need Evidence and Justice for Balondemu David.”

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Balondemu was arrested by detectives from the State House Anti-Corruption Unit and detained at the Special Investigations Department in Kireka for three days before being produced in court and subsequently remanded to Luzira Prison, where he spent 16 days.

Some law firms in Kampala have recently been implicated in gold scams, with allegations of connivance with suspects. However, these firms maintain that they are being blamed for providing legal services to their clients.

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