Senior Police officer ACP Anatoli Muleterwa has been ordered by the High court to pay Shs 50 million as part of the total Shs 282 million compensation awarded to Adrine Kemirembe after police illegally auctioned off her missing car.
Justice Lydia Mugambe awarded Kemirembe Shs 120m for loss of income and Shs 150m in general damages – all to be paid by the government, and another Shs 50m to be paid Anatoli Muleterwa, then community liaison officer at the central police station (CPS) Kampala or be committed to prison.
It all started on November 14, 2008, when a Nissan Datsun pickup, registration number; UAE 130H belonging to Kemirembe went missing from Makerere University main library parking lot. At the time the car went missing, it was being driven by Kemirembe’s husband, Alex Ssebagala who was working on his dissertation at the university library.
On the same day, Ssebagala reported a case of a missing vehicle; SD REF 28/14/1108 at Makerere University police post and at Kampala central police station under reference No. ERU/999/CPSSD REF 15/29/12/0.
There was no report from the police about the progress of the search. But as fate would have it, two years later, court heard that on April 26, 2010, while in Kisenyi a Kampala a suburb, Kemirembe’s husband saw the missing vehicle used for business. Ssebagala then hired the vehicle up to Makerere University police station where the driver and turnboy were arrested.
Upon interrogation, the driver, Jamil Mutyaba told police that the car belonged to Muleterwa, who was then the community liaison officer for Kampala Metropolitan Area. Court heard that the vehicle had been sold to Muleterwa’s wife, Margaret Kizza at Shs 1 million through auction. When confronted, Muleterwa asked Kemirembe to pay back the Shs 1 million that his wife paid for the car.
Muleterwa, nowthe head of community policing department, told the court that the auctioning was legal since there was a court order, authorizing the auction after the custodian of exhibits at central police station complained that they were congesting the
However, in her judgement, justice Mugambe said that she failed to understand under what circumstances a missing car that had been reported to police, was auctioned and how it had reached the central police station.
“Needless to say, the close relationship of wife and husband between DW1 [Muleterwa] and Kizza Margaret who bought the car demonstrates a conflict of interest in DW1’s dealings in relation to this car…However more striking is the contradiction of DW1’s [Muleterwa] testimony when I look at the list of items the court authorized sale of and the list of items the auctioneer DW2 put up for sale. The plaintiff’s car is not listed in the court list – Exhibit D Exh1 but it’s listed in the auctioneers’ list for sale- annexture Dexh2.” Mugambe wrote in her judgement.
The lady justice said there is no satisfactory explanation why or how Kemirembe’s car illegally got listed on the auctioneer’s list that led to its illegal sale when it was not authorized by court in its order of December 17, 2009. The judge said it was clear and easy to infer that Muleterwa’s hand was behind the grand scheme to illegally sell off Kemirembe’s car.
“It’s near to blasphemy that Muleterwa could stand in court on oath before me and insist that the sale of the plaintiff’s car was authorized by court whereas not. If he would lie in this aspect, one wonders which part of his testimony is truthful”, Mugambe added.
The judge further said that Muleterwa was fully aware of the search operation for the lost car at the material time, yet he grossly involved in its misappropriation when it was sold to his wife illegally.
Kemirembe had calculated loss of income at Shs 50,000 per day for six days – translating to Shs 157 million but Mugambe reduced this to Shs 120m, saying the car couldn’t have been bringing full daily income for all the six days of every week and through the years. She said some days would be unprofitable and it would have worn off and the days of earning income would have reduced through the years.
Court also awarded Kemirembe Shs 12m in recovery as the total value for her vehicle. The total Shs 282m compensation will draw the interest of 15% pa from the date of the suit until paid in full.