In the wee hours of the night of August 2, 2015, a fight between two love rivals ensued in Kampala City’s Club Guvnor.
The fight was between John Ahimbisibwe alias Jonnie and Ivan Kamyuka.
Kamyuka and his wife Nima Nyarwaka were confronted by Ahimbisibwe, his wife’s ex-lover, as they were approaching the corridor leading to the washrooms of the night club.
Nyarwaka and Ahimbisibwe’s love affair while they lived in Sweden resulted in the birth of a son.
The duo’s relationship ended when former reported the latter’s violent attacks against her to the police, which led to his eventual deportation.
During the confrontation at the club, Ahimbisibwe sustained a deep cut in the neck and he bled to death.
Closed Circuit Television footage extracted from the night club camera showed puzzled revellers at the club trying to separate the two men.
They then locked Kamyuka and his wife in the washrooms to stop them from fleeing from being held culpable.
Police were alerted and they arrested Kamyuka and his wife.
Later, police zeroed down on Kamyuka as the key suspect in the killing of Ahimbisibwe.
He was subsequently charged with murder, an offence with a maximum penalty of death by hanging.
Prosecution had to prove that Kamyuka had indeed murdered Ahimbisibwe.
During the trial, Dr William Male Mutumba, a consultant pathologist, examined the body of Ahimbisibwe on August 2, 2015 and established that the body had a deep stab wound in the neck.
The postmortem report also showed that an artery that carries blood from the heart was cut and due to excessive bleeding from the fatal injury, Ahimbisibwe’s heart stopped beating.
Prosecution witness testified that the deceased smashed a glass in the face of Kamyuka’s wife.
In her testimony, Nyarwaka told court that Ahimbisibwe attacked them first, calling her a “bitch” and a “prostitute” before he smashed her face with a glass that left her with a bruised face and wobbly teeth.
“Jonnie had a glass in his hand, he smashed it into my face. He injured me, I could not see. I screamed a lot, my husband, now the accused person, came to my rescue. I ran to the toilets to clean up my face,” Nyarwaka told court.
“I knew Jonnie, he was at one point my boyfriend when we both lived in Sweden. In that relationship we begot a seven-year-old boy. We fell out because he had become so violent. I was forced to report him to the police and he was deported,” she explained.
The second prosecution witness, Charity Kyomuhendo, a sister of the deceased, said the killing of her brother could have been caused by the child custody row he had with Nyarwaka.
She told court that a friend of her late brother, only identified as Patrick, had confided in her how the deceased’s ex-lover had given away his child to another man.
She said the giveaway of the child had bred hostility between her brother and his ex-lover.
Kamyuka corroborated the testimony of his wife. He told court that Ahimbisibwe attacked them at Club Guvnor.
He further defended himself by telling court of how the deceased smashed a glass in the face of his wife and that he reacted by pushing him to prevent further attacks on his wife.
Kamyuka further said he did all he did in defence of his wife and that he did not have a glass in his hand. He said it was Ahimbisibwe who had a glass which he used to smash his wife’s face.
The prosecution had unsuccessfully contended that Kamyuka attacked Ahimbisibwe first and, therefore, a plea of self defence was invalid.
Presiding judge Wilson Kwesiga, in his ruling, said: “…upon analysing several authorities, I found that it is the duty of any spouse to use force to repel an attacker using reasonable force even if it means leading to death of the attacker.”
He added: “Considering the fact the confrontation between the accused and the deceased was after the accused person’s wife had been assaulted and injured by the deceased, who remained at the scene in combative action, this proves that the deceased was the attacker.”
The trial judge said circumstances of the case exhibited self defence by Kamyuka after he was provoked by Ahimbisibwe.
“The deceased abused the accused person’s wife, assaulted her and violently pushed the accused person, all this tantamounts to provocation,” ruled the judge.
Having found that it was the deceased who provoked Kamyuka into a fight, the charge of murder, whose ingredients involve malice aforethought, could not stand and instead the charge was lessened to manslaughter.
Manslaughter is when a person kills another unintentionally, meaning the killing happened abruptly without the offender planning it.
“With the above, the allegation of malice a forethought has been reverted. But because of the injuries inflicted on the deceased as revealed in the postmortem report, we think the force used by the accused was excessive but not so excessive as to remove the defence of self defence by the accused,” Justice Kwesiga ruled.
The judge continued: “Whereas the force used at the time of killing the deceased was disappropriate in trying to remove the fear of danger, we find a conviction of manslaughter is appropriate.”
While sentencing Kamyuka upon convicting him of manslaughter, the judge emphasised that the deceased partly contributed to his own death.
“This is a case where the deceased partly contributed to his death, the convict is receiving the punishment for using excessive force. I do sentence the convict to five years less by one year and three months of the time he spent on remand.”
While delivering the verdict, the judge rebuked police for failing to examine the metallic wrist watch and broken glasses that were recovered at the crime scene and suspected to be the murder weapons. This left the questions on the nature of weapon used to stab the deceased unanswered.
Court allowed Kamyuka to have a say before he was sentenced.
He pleaded for forgiveness from the family of Ahimbisibwe, reasoning that the death occurred accidentally.
“My lord, I ask for forgiveness, this was accidental and happened so suddenly and was not intentional. During the hearing, I asked to be pardoned by the bereaved family. I continue to apologise today and pray that the family members (of the deceased) find space in their hearts to forgive me,” he pleaded.