An Ugandan businessman, Mathew Kanyamunyu, has finally admitted to the family of child rights activist, Kenneth Akena Watson to killing their son, and agreed to pay 10 cows and three goats reparation for the offence.
Born on November 29, 1983 in Gandyang town, Kitgum district, late Akena, was working with ACODEV as a child protection specialist under a USAID project at the time of his death in 2016.
It was gathered that Akena accidentally knocked Kanyamunyu’s car in a parking lot in Lugogo, Kampala, and had reportedly gone to apologise to Kanyamunyu after the accident, when Kanyamunyu lowered the window of his car and shot him in the stomach with a pistol at close range. According to the family, a postmortem report revealed two bullets inside Akena’s body.
Akena died a few hours later at Norvic hospital, where he had been taken by the accused.
Kanyamunyu has since then been on trial together with his Burundian girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari and sibling Joseph Kanyamunyu who allegedly hid the killer gun. But throughout the trial, Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend insisted that they only took Akena to hospital as good Samaritans.
However, in an alleged dying declaration, Akena reportedly told his relatives that he was shot by the same people who took him to hospital.
Last month, Kanyamunyu’s family sought the intervention of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI) and Acholi Cultural Institution to broker a reconciliation agreement between them and Akena’s family to find a closure to the case.
Dr John Baptist Odama, the Gulu Archbishop backed by Rwot David Onena Acana II, the paramount chief of Acholi persuaded Akena’s family who in turn opened up to the negotiations. The reconcilers summoned the two families for the first meeting that was held on Saturday, in Gulu.
The meeting that was held under tents at Ker Kwaro Acholi compound, was presided over by Rwot Acana II as a chief witness. A council of six elders cross-examined Kanyamunyu as a requisite step of prior to Mato Oput – a clan or family-centred reconciliation practice.
A family source privy to the negotiations says that Kanyamunyu, pictured above, made a step by step recount of what happened between him and Akena on November 12, 2016, at Forest shopping mall in Lugogo before he pleaded for clemency from Ogom chiefs, Akena’s clan leaders.
“He admitted that he will make the same confession before the High court in Kampala where he is being prosecuted to allow him to enter a plea bargain,” a source said.
The same source added that after the confession, the elders on the protocol of Mato Oput made an assessment of 10 cows and three goats to be paid by Kanyamunyu’s family to which they agreed.
Asked what drove him to pull a trigger on an innocent man, Kanyamunyu said up to this day, he has never comprehended the level of “stupidity”, “foolishness” or “evil” that he even did not know he had in him on that fateful day when he pulled the trigger.
“To be honest I would be lying to you if I told you that I have fully comprehended the tragedy of that day to date. The stupidity, the foolishness, the evil that I exhibited on that day is not something I knew was in. But now I recognize, now I recognize within me, deep within me, there is evil that I did not know about.” Kanyamunyu said.
“I can never comprehend ever the magnitude of what is inside me and that is the reason that I’m remorseful, that I’m sorry and that is the reason I ask for your forgiveness, I ask for your understanding and for time for this healing process to begin and for time for me to comprehend the magnitude of the tragedy,” Kanyamunyu added.
Under the ultimate Acholi tradition justice system of Mato Oput , the accused person must admit his/her mistake through a meaningful confession and must also accept to pay reparations for the damages caused.
Ambrose Olaa, the prime minister of Acholi Cultural Institution confirmed the reconciliation meeting. He said the exercise was conducted at Ker Kwaro Acholi by the Ogom clan under the Payira chiefdom of Acholi ethnic group.
The trial of Kanyamunyu and his co-accused was earlier this year adjourned indefinitely by presiding judge Stephen Mubiru, the Gulu resident judge.
However, Akena’s family members remain optimistic about the pursuit of traditional justice by Kanyamunyu’s family will not derail them from continuing with criminal proceedings already before the court.