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Fare Thee Well Jewel of the Court : A tribute to Joan Kagezi

My heart bleeds. I am shedding tears. Ms Joan Kagezi gunned down? I still can’t believe it. Ms Kagezi is one of the kindest, humblest and brilliant prosecutors I know. She was set to be appointed to the Judiciary as a judge having passed interviews. I worked with her in the Kwoyelo trials. I have travelled the world with her for meetings. Rest in Peace Joan.

Celebrated Human Rights Lawyer Nicholas Opiyo posted on Facebook.



Three days after the death of unarguably on of Uganda’s top prosecutor Joan Kagezi, people from all walks of life are still coming to terms with her death. It is had to believe that she is dead.

It came as a surprise to everyone and no one saw it coming. She was gunned down by two assailants who had been trailing her on Monday (March 31st) at 7pm in Najjera when she was heading to her home after shopping according to the police.

Many lawyers and workmates took to social media to pay tribute to the fallen lawyer and mother praising her work and demanding justice for Joan Kagezi who at time of her death, had become the acting deputy director of public prosecution.

At time of her death, she was the lead prosecutor in the case involving thirteen terrorism suspects on trial for killing seventy six people in July 2010 at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds and Ethiopian Village restaurant during the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. The case was due to resume this week. She had also just sat for interviews for High Court judge.

The late Joan Kagezi, has been a celebrated female lawyer who has handled almost all high profile murder cases in Uganda.  Straight from 2006 when she was appearing before Justice Rubby Opio, she was the prosecutor in highly reported case involving Australia-based Ugandan cardiologist Dr. Aggrey Kiyingi who had been accused of murdering his wife the late Robinah Kiyingi. The case was thrown out for lack of evidence.

In 2008 however, Arua Municipality MP Akbar Godi did not survive her brave hands of justice. The former MP, had been accused of murdering his wife Rebecca Caesar in the same year. He was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to 25 years in prison by Justice Lawrence Gidudu.

Another high profile case she prosecuted involved Thomas Nkurungira alias Tonku in 2011. Tonku had murdered his girlfriend Brenda Karamuzi and dumped her body in a septic tank behind his house on 31st January 2010. This time, the murder suspect was not sentenced to life imprisonment but after her prayers to the trial judge Albert Atwoki, Tonku was sentenced to death by hanging.

The late Joan Kagezi has been hated and loved at the same time. If you are a relative of the accused and she was the prosecutor in the case, by default you had to hate her because she was sending your relative to prison for the crime being heard in court. The difference would be, she was fighting for justice and you cannot blame her for doing her job.

But again on the other hand, if you were a relative of the victim and she was the state prosecutor presiding over, you will praise her and pray to God to continue guiding her footsteps. She stood for justice and she gave all she had to make sure that victims of murder get justice and the criminals do not go unpunished.

As a State Prosecutor in all her cases, being a defence lawyer, also came with its own disadvantages. She had mastered the art of Criminal Law in that winning her would be a strange plot twist in the wheels of justice. Celebrated Lawyer Caleb Alaka who was the opposing counsel in the case involving the terror suspects testifies.

It hurts to hear about the death of a widow who dies in such a way. Whatever she was doing, she was only doing her job a prosecutor and there is no justification whatsoever to murder an innocent female lawyer that way. It is further traumatising for her kids who now will not see their mother anymore and the fact that their father died in 2006, makes it worse for her relatively young family she has left behind.

Being among the only Ugandan lawyers accredited to practice at the International Criminal Court, death by the gun has robbed Uganda of one the most loved, admired and respected female lawyers. A woman who has never fought any war with a gun to be shot and killed by an assassinator ‘s bullet, is nothing to smile about. It is hard to find any faults in Joan Kagezi’s successful legal careers ever since she begun practicing way back in 1992. She was just a Jewel of the Court!

Who is Joan Kagezi?

Born on July 14, 1967 in Luteete, Rakai district, Joan Kagezi attended Nsuube primary school from 1973 to 1980. She later proceeded to Mt St Mary’s College Namagunga for O level and attained her Ordinary Level Certificate from 1981 to 1984.

She joined Makerere University in 1987 where she attained a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) degree in 1990 and later proceeded to acquire a Diploma in Legal Practice from Law Development Centre (LDC) in 1992.

From LDC, Joan Kagezi became a land officer in the Ministry of Lands and  later became a state attorney in 1994 attached to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Joan Kagezi became a Principal State Attorney in 2002 after a promotion by the Public Service Commission. She became Senior Principal State Attorney in 2007 a position she held until her death this week.

In January 2015, she was assigned higher duties of Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions in the department of International Crimes.

Human Rights Lawyer Nicholas Opiyo above, stated that she had sat for interviews to become a judge of the High Court of Uganda and she was still waiting for results.

Joan Kagezi is survived by four children.

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1 Comment

  1. abdoulayebah

    April 2, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    It was the taxi-driver taking me at the airport who informed me about this tragedy. I see that the post on GV has not yet been translated into French, I will take it, as soon I finished a couple of features I took to use my time during the trip.

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How This Group of Young Men is Creating Employment Through Art and Craft


A group of 6 youths in Makindye has embarked on a life changing journey, turning their passions and skills into a profitable business.

After attending a crafts exhibition at the National Theatre in 2015, these friends were inspired by the attractive crafts on display to start their own workshop making and selling crafts.

“We talked to Mr. Muwembo, the craftsman who was showcasing his work. He offered to give us training as we worked for him. His workshop was in Kanyanya so we used to come from Makindye every day to Kanyanya. It took us over a year to master how wood craft is done,” said Mark.

While at this apprenticeship, these young men started making their own pieces which they sold, using the profit to purchase their own equipment.

“We had a strategy. Every month we had to buy equipment. After a year, we had developed skills and were able to start our own workshop,” said Malakai, one of the proprietors of the workshop. “To start any business, it needs commitment, passion, and ready to take risks, consistency and involvement.”

In 2016, these committed youth started their workshop on a small piece of land given to them by Malakai’s father at Lukuli, Nanganda.

“After two months, KCCA came and demolished our workshop saying that they wanted only built up structures on the main road. Even all our equipment and materials were taken. We went back to zero and all our savings had been used to buy these things,” narrates Mark. “We visited KCCA offices several times trying to see if we could recover the materials. We had lost wood, vanish, paints and tools like small axes, carving tools, pry bars, clamps, hammers and marking tools. We never got any back so we gave up on them”

As a result, their work was put on a standstill for some time. This was a very big set back to their dream of building a very big craft shop. Their next challenge was getting another location.

“Towards the end of 2016, KCCA advertised a funding opportunity for the youths who had business ideas and also those that had running businesses. We wrote a proposal but this took a while and we never not get any feedback.”

Desperate for capital to start over, they sought loans from their parents to no luck. Only Abdul’s parents supported them with a small loan that wasn’t sufficient to cover the cost of materials and new equipment.

“During that time, there was a road construction project. we asked for jobs and worked there for 6 months. We saved all our money and rented a small piece of land where we put up a workshop. This time it was not on the main road.  We started working again and lucky enough, we had market from our time at Muwembo”s workshop,” narrates Mark.

Malakai working on one of the pieces in the workshop

Due to their hard work, these six young men have managed to create jobs and employ more eleven young people who distribute and take on other tasks like filing, shaping, chiseling, painting among others. The group is constructing a workshop and a showroom on the main road in Lukuli. By next year, they believe, the workshop will be done.

“Basing on the current situation in the country, we are able to earn a living and also employ other people,” says Abdul.

When asked about their goals, this inseparable team wants to have at least 100 employees by the end of next year and also start exporting their craft. They encourage their fellow Ugandans to follow their passion and find a way of earning from it.

*This is a guest post by MARVIN MUTYABA, a student at Makerere University Business School, currently pursuing a Business Administration in his second year. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, skills development and fitness. 

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How Kasule Is Changing The Lives Of Children Of Prisoners One By One


Jimmy Kasule Chan is a 29-year-old man who has dedicated his life to supporting the children of prisoners in Uganda. With over sixteen children from twelve families in his programme today, he is working towards his vision of a prosperous future for the children of Ugandan prisoners.

Kasule (Right) does homework with one of the children in the programme

His desire to change the lives of prisoner’s children was awakened in 2012 when he was wrongfully detained at the Harare remand centre in Zimbabwe for six months.

My friend had told me to go with him to South Africa for work. When we got there, things were very tight and we decided to come back home after two weeks with some electronics for sale. We thought this could be our business. On our way, we had to go through Harare but we did not have some stamps in our passports. Because Uganda does not have an embassy in Zimbabwe, we had gone through the Tanzanian embassy but the people at the border could not understand this. We were taken to Interpol and on getting there, we were arrested for Border Jump. We were detained in Harare remand centre for 6 months without having any real contact with anyone. There were 12 Ugandans in total” he narrated. “My wife was seven months pregnant at that time and I kept thinking, what if I never go back to Uganda? Who will help my child? I resolved to help children of prisoners if I ever got out of this prison.”

Jimmy described his time as a prisoner in a foreign country as horrific and inhumane, with poor feeding and little to no medical care.

It was terrible. The food was the worst and sometimes not cooked properly in fact, people used to get sick all the time. One Ugandan died from a stomach infection. We used to eat something called “Chingwa”, that tasted like spoilt bread. Winter was the worst because we were given these thin blankets and no mattress.”

With the tireless help of his wife, jimmy was released from Harare remand centre in 2012 and on getting back to Uganda, the first thing he did was to get a job that would give him the funds to support these children.

A friend introduced me to a gentleman who gave me his car for business. I used to transport people most especially tourists and pay him UGX 300,000 every week. I got a very nice client called Mona, who I found out was the president of Children of prisoners, Sweden. After she left, I sent her an email asking for a meeting and she agreed to meet me. I told her about my vision and she seemed very excited about it. She was happy to meet someone who shared her vision.”

A few months later, Mona asked Jimmy to visit one of the children her organization sponsored, Chrispus, at his school.

When I visited him, he was excited that a stranger could come to see him. I kept visiting him on Visiting Days. He told me about his father who had been serving a long sentence in Luzira. I went to visit him and I asked him to introduce me to other people in the prison who I could talk to. I met people who would directed me to their families now my wife and I go to visit them and take for them some things.”

For four years now, Jimmy has conducted monthly visits to families of prisoners and has taken on the guardianship of Chrispus, who he regards as his first born. He also hosts an annual Christmas party for the children where he invites other children from the neighbourhood to make merry and meet father Christmas.

At one of the children’s Christmas parties Kasule has hosted

Jimmy believes that children, more so whose parents have been imprisoned, need to be loved and cared for so they do not find the need to commit any crimes and end up in prisons as well.

Would you like to support children of prisoners or volunteer on family visits? Please call/text Jimmy on 0774739500 or send him an email at

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Turning Rubbish into Money In The Fight Against Unemployment


Meet Calvin Matovu, a twenty-five-year old graduate from Makerere University who recycles wastes and rubbish into charcoal.

After attaining a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental science in 2013, Calvin searched for a job in vain. His life started becoming difficult as he had no source of income and he found it senseless to finish university and sit at idly at home.

In the struggle to fight unemployment, Calvin harnessed the idea of collecting wastes and rubbish from the community with his friends, to make some money.

“I asked myself, all this waste we collect and KCCA burns, can’t we reproduce a product out of it?’ Basing on my knowledge from campus, I came up with the idea of recycling wastes into charcoal.” Says Calvin at his factory in Erisa zone, Kyebando.

He set his plan in motion by gathering jobless youths in his community to create employment for themselves. Calvin and his team of seven started reusing wastes, especially organic wastes from agricultural products for example peelings from matooke. These are mixed with ash, clay, carbon and water to make a final product.

“At first we did not have market because people were already using charcoal from firewood with no clue about charcoal from wastes.” He says.

The idea of reusing garbage to make charcoal seems so unrealistic until he breaks down the process through which waste can be made useful and environment friendly.

“The raw materials include banana peelings, paper, clay, cow dung, cassava flour basing on your income level for example one can use clay or cow dung or cassava flour. The machines used are: a charring drum, crushing machine and a stick briquette machine. Peelings are collected and dried then sorted and grinded. Then they are burnt and put into the charring drum. The binder, which can be either  cassava porridge, clay or cow dung is added to the wastes mix and the mixture is then poured into the briquette machine. the last step is to dry the briquettes to produce charcoal. This is done in the drying rack.”

Calvin’s workmate sieving the raw material in the workshop

Calvin and his team have faced a number of challenges but this has not stopped them from going further.

“In the beginning, we used our hands to mould the charcoal which was very tiresome and it left our hands spoilt with dead skin in the palms. Our quality also wasn’t that good. The market too was very low but we never gave up.”

“Use what surrounds you” is a common saying that we often do not give attention too, but instead, we keep asking our leaders for help yet what’s surrounds us can be very useful in our daily life.

Basic principles of Physics state that “Effort + Load  = Work done.” Calvin’s hard work and desire to see his brilliant idea boom led him to overcome all the challenges that he and his team met. After months of several dynamics, critics and mental exhaustion, the season ended and he harvested fruits from his tree. Schools and some small companies started making orders for his charcoal. He has since received support from KCCA in form of a a manual machine that ended the hands era.

The briquettes are laid out to dry in the drying rack

Calvin Matovu now he employs twenty young people from his own community in Kyebando. The charcoal briquettes they manufacture cost UGX 1500 and last for over seven hours, which minimizes the daily costs also reducing demand for firewood.

“Anyone can do this anywhere at any time.” He says in conclusion. “Every person should base on talent at least 50% of their daily economic activities.”

The finished products. Briquettes ready to be sold.

This is a guest post by MARVIN MUTYABA, a student at Makerere University Business School, currently pursuing a Business Administration in his second year. He is passionate about entrepreneurship, skills development and fitness. 

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