MUKONO-UGANDA/NEWSDAY: The Rally ace, Ponsiano Rwakataka has been freed from Prison to the fantasy of his supporters who have missed him for over one year.
Lwakataka also known as the speed merchant will now once again throw the motor rally fraternity at their tenterhooks.
The rally fans have been enthusiastic and his absence from the steering game had evidently brought low spirits and morale down, as the evidenced in the just concluded Pearl of Africa.
Mukono Court grade one magistrate, Patience Koburunga sentenced him to serve at Kauga prison over alleged malicious damage to property. He was accused with six other people for destroying the house of George William Kawooya, 74, a resident of Goma sub-county in Kiwanga, Mukono.
On Monday, the Mukono High Court, presided over by Judge David Matovu, granted bail to renowned rally driver Ponsiano Lwakataka. This decision comes after Lwakataka was convicted on charges of malicious damage and trespass, resulting in an 18-month prison term. The verdict has attracted widespread attention, not only due to Lwakataka’s prominence in the racing world but also because of the nature of the allegations against him.
The legal saga that culminated in Lwakataka’s conviction began at the Mukono Magistrate’s Court, under the jurisdiction of Magistrate Grade One, Her Worship Patience Koburungi. The first case (Mukono CRB 027/2019) involved Lwakataka and his cousin, Ssekitoleko John, who were accused of deliberately damaging Namanya Joseline’s fence. The trial magistrate found both individuals guilty and sentenced them to six months in prison.
In the second case (Mukono CRB 1714/2018), Lwakataka and eight co-defendants faced charges of maliciously damaging the house belonging to 75-year-old Mzee George William Kawooya. Prosecution evidence revealed that Lwakataka had orchestrated the destruction, instructing a group of individuals to carry out the act. During the trial, all accused parties absconded, leading to a request for the trial to proceed in their absence, which was granted.
After a seven-month absence, Lwakataka was re-arrested on September 13, 2022, and detained pending judgment. Subsequently, the accused individuals sought criminal revision at the High Court, challenging their trial in absentia. However, their application was ultimately dismissed. On November 22, 2022, the trial magistrate delivered the verdict, finding Lwakataka guilty and sentencing him to 18 months’ imprisonment.
Following the sentencing, Lwakataka’s legal team presented compelling sureties and supporting documents to the Mukono High Court, seeking bail. Judge David Matovu granted their request on 15th May 2023, allowing Lwakataka to secure his release upon payment of a UGX 5 million cash bail. The decision to grant bail has stirred discussions and emotions within the public sphere, given Lwakataka’s esteemed status as a rally champion.
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