Briefly, it was reported in the media that on Saturday, while at Lugogo Mall, Mr. Akena was reversing his car, and in the process, scratched Mr. Kanyamunyu’s car.
Mr. Akena came out to apologize. Around that time, he was shot in the stomach. He was taken to hospital by Mr. Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend and soon after passed away. Before he died, it is reported that he made statements claiming he was shot by Mr. Kanyamunyu who was in the company of his girlfriend. The two are being treated as suspects.
When investigations are still ongoing, it is impossible to know what is true and what has been made up or “spiced up” in order to be interesting for the audience and to sell newspapers or to get viewership. Always keep a skeptical mind when being told of facts.
We do not yet have all the facts at the moment, but basing on media reports, a man was shot dead at Lugogo mall, and this death was unlawful. So basing on these reports, we will proceed to shed some light on some legal lessons in this case.
You will be hearing some of these legal terms coming up constantly during the next weeks, or months.
1. What are the possible charges in case one person kills another?
When the actions of one person directly lead to the death of another it is termed as a “homicide”. Under the law in Uganda, an unlawful death may either be murder or manslaughter.
When the homicide is intentional, it is called murder. This is where one person knowingly does some unlawful act that is intended to lead to the death of the other person. An example is where one person picks up a large metallic spoon and hits the other on the head repeatedly with the intention of killing him/her. That person if convicted can be sentenced to a maximum of death.
Manslaughter is where the an unlawful act by one person leads to the death of another person but where it was not intended. For example if one person pushes another in anger and that other person falls and hits their head on a sharp edge and dies.
Even though it was by mistake, someone has still died and the act that lead to the death was unlawful by itself so the person who committed that act may still be held responsible.
In such cases, Court will consider exactly what happened and in it’s wisdom decide how to punish that person. A person who commits the offence of manslaughter may be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.
NB: The main difference between Murder and Manslaughter comes down to basically if the killing was intentional or not. Under the law, this is called “Malice Aforethought”.
2. Provocation as a defence
Under the law, a person can commit a crime, and then say, i did this because i was provoked. This is a defence..
Provocation is where the defendant pleads a sudden loss of self control as a direct result of things done or said by another person. In Uganda, a defense of “provocation” can act to mitigate the gravity of certain offences, for instance, if successfully proven, it could reduce murder to manslaughter since it eliminates the mental element (intention) required for a crime.
NB: Provocation can only be used when the accused person has been charged with being responsible for an unlawful killing, and then accepts that indeed, he/ she carried out the unlawful killing but that he/she acted because he/she was provoked.
3. What is a Dying Declaration?
According to media reports, before the deceased passed on, he said he was shot by the suspect at Lugogo mall. This leads to an interesting element of the law called Dying Declarations.
The law on dying declaration is that it is made by the deceased person on the verge of death when all hope in life is gone. And when his/her conscious is silenced by no other motive other than to tell the truth. The statement made is usually about the cause of death, and can be used as evidence in Court.
1. Emotions are highly charged regarding this matter, but its our duty to always let the law take its course.
Remember, under the Constitution, everyone is innocent until proven guilty and as such, we would like to appeal everyone to let justice take its course. As they say, The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.
2. To the Police and other justice institutions, remember, justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.
3. As a country, let’s desist from narrowing this matter into a sectarian and tribal one. The fact of the matter is a Ugandan was shot dead, and so the laws of Uganda must prevail to bring the perpetrator to justice, and not the mob.
4. Mob justice can take on many forms, in a way, judging someone as guilty without letting due process prevail is in itself a form of mob justice.
Source: Barefoot Lawyers Uganda