President, Yoweri Museveni has suspended Herbert Kabafunzaki, the embattled Labor State Minister until he is cleared of the corruption allegations against him.
“Following the recent allegations of your involvement in corrupt practices, I have with immediate effect suspended you from performing duties as Minister of State for Labor until court has determined the matter,” reads Museveni’s April 13th letter to Kabafunzaki.
He directs Kabafunzaki to hand over office to the substantive Minister. Kabafunzaki’s trouble stems from his arrest from Serena Hotel in Kampala on Saturday last week where he had allegedly gone to pick a bribe from Hamid Muhammad, the proprietor of AYA Group of Companies.
A team of detectives from Kampala Metropolitan Police Criminal Investigations Unit caught the minister red-handed receiving the bribe following a tip off. He was whisked off to Nalufenya Police facility in Jinja.
It is alleged that Kabafunzaki solicited a bribe of Shillings 30 million from Muhammad, who also owns Hilton Hotel to help clear him of sexual assault charges brought against him by one of his former employees.
On Tuesday, Kabafunzaki appeared before Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Agnes Alum alongside his personal assistant Brian Mugabo and an interior designer Bruce Lubowa. They were charged with three counts of corruption and conspiracy to commit a felony.
Kabafunzaki and Lubowa pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, Mugabo pleaded guilty and admitted to hiding a bribe of 5 million Shillings on behalf of the minister. He says his action was to protect the minister from punishment. Kabafunzaki denied the allegations and told court that he did not receive any bribe and neither did he plan to meet Mohammad Hamid on the fateful day.
“I didn’t plan to meet anyone from AYA, I was having lunch with my daughter at Serena Hotel. It was a set up,” Kabafunzaki says. Anti-Corruption Court Chief Magistrate Agnes Alum remanded the trio Luzira Prison, but granted the minister bail the next day.
She directed him to deposit to court Shillings 5 million in cash, his diplomatic passport and Land tittle as a condition for the bail. His three sureties executed a non-cash bond of Shillings 50 million each. They included his wife Doreen Kabafunzaki, and colleagues Eliab Byamukama and Charles Mutabaazi.