Jacqueline Uwera Nsenga, who was convicted by the High Court on Monday, for murdering her husband Juvenal Nsenga was yesterday sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Before reading out the sentence, the judge Duncan Gaswaga asked Uwera whether she had anything to tell the court.
Clad in a striped black skirt and red blouse, Uwera stood in the dock and calmly insisted her husband’s death was an accident for which she was sorry.
In soft tone, she said: “I am a first time offender my lord. I have two children whom I had with my late husband. The accident that took place wasn’t intentional. I pray that whatever sentence you will give me, please” she broke down, paused and continued: “… It was an accident, it was not intentional and I am sorry. I know the pain my in-laws are going through just like I am. I might be looked at as a criminal now but I am sorry, it wasn’t intended.”
After the submission for mitigation, the judge read the sentence.
He blamed Uwera, a mother of two aged 18 and 12, for using domestic violence to resolve her shattered marriage with the late husband which went on the rocks in 2001 instead of pursuing the legal means to end the relationship.
“Domestic violence must be stopped and couples should seek guidance and help from relatives, friends and professional bodies to solve their differences,” he said.
Senior Principal State Attorney Susan Okalany had asked court to hand down Ms Uwera the maximum death sentence because, “her children are better off without her”.
The judge concurred that Ms Uwera was a first offender who was remorseful throughout the trial and promised to reform.
“I take cognizance of the fact that she did not enjoy the marriage for 10 years. She is a mother of two children who will suffer even more than any other people here. Domestic violence leaves consequences that last a lifetime,” the judge said.
The court sank into silence awaiting Ms Uwera’s fate, the judge paused and pronounced himself: “I sentence you to 20 years in prison and the period in remand should be counted as part of this.”
The convict has been on remand for one year and three months.
Minutes after the sentence, a shaken and distraught-looking Uwera was whisked away to a waiting Prisons Service van as the public looked on emotionally.
Her lead lawyer, Mr Nsubuga Mubiru, said he would appeal the judgment.
Earlier before the judgment, court witnessed a hot exchange between defence lawyer Isaac Walukaga and the judge.
Mr Walukaga said the judge did not have powers to give “a death sentence for an offence whose penalty is not prescribed under the current Ugandan law.”
He claimed the ruling on the Susan Kigula constitutional petition of 2006 in which the Supreme Court declared the death sentence is no longer mandatory for murder accordingly, it abolished the death sentence from Uganda’s law books.
Mr Walukaga said Section 189 of the Penal Code still provides for a mandatory death sentence for a person who commits murder.
The judge, who expected the defence lawyers to make a mitigating case for their client asked: “You mean we have no penalty for murder? So all these cases that have been tried since then are illegal? Why didn’t you raise it before this stage?”
Senior principal State Attorney Jane Kajuga Okuo, who prosecuted the case, asked the judge to dismiss Mr Walukaga’s application to suspend delivery of the sentence, saying the application had no merit.
She submitted that the Kigula case ruling only abolished the death sentence from being mandatory, but did not remove it either. She said the ruling gave judges discretionary power and allowed mitigation so that convicts of murder can get lesser sentences.
The judge retired to his chambers. When he returned, he called the defence lawyer’s application as “flawed, misleading and intended to waste court’s time”.
Period. Uwera Nsenga could spend 13 years in prison following her 20-year jail sentence. Under the Prisons Service Act, the first month of conviction is served in full (30 days), but in the proceeding 11 months in the year, the convict gets a remission of 10 days per month and serves only 20 days of each month for the rest of the sentence period.
Breakdown: For the first 10 years, Ms Nsenga will have a remission of three years and four months off her sentence and a similar period for the other 10 years, making it about six years and a half. Since the judge ruled that the one year and three months she had spent on remand be included in the 20-year jail term, Ms Nsenga will serve about 13 years. But the terms may be altered depending on her conduct.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor