Tribute. Daily Monitor traces the slain prosecutor’s career journey and relays tributes from family and friends.
The late Joan Kagezi was one of the few senior public prosecutors whose name was synonymous with prosecuting very high profile cases. She also succeeded in securing convictions spanning the 21 years that she worked as a public prosecutor.
A quick look at the high profile cases that she had handled include; a murder case involving former Arua Municipality MP Akbar Hussein Godi whose wife was killed; a murder case in which Aggrey Kiyingi’s wife Robinah was killed; a murder case involving Thomas Nkulungira, whose girlfriend was killed; a case involving former LRA warlord Thomas Kwoyelo; and the Muslim clerics’ murder case.
She met her death while prosecuting yet another high profile case, where 79 people who were watching a World Cup final match were killed by the terror militants al-Shaabab.
Ms Jane Abodo, who worked with the deceased for more than 16 years at the Directorate, said she was her mentor and a friend. Ms Abodo said since she joined the DPP’s office, she had always worked closely with the deceased right from Mukono, Nakawa and Buganda Road courts to International Crimes Division in Kololo, where they shared a compound.
City lawyer Nicholas Opiyo posted on his Facebook wall: “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.”
Mr Evans Ochieng, another defence lawyer in the terror case, said apart from being a lawyer, she was a cooperative person who treated everyone with respect even if you were on the defence side.
Mr Younous Kasirivu, a defence lawyer in the bomb case, said he had several times disagreed with Kagezi during court sessions but as soon as they got out of the court room, they became friends and laughed again.
JOAN KAGEZI profile
Background. She was born on July 14, 1967 at Luteete, Rakai District.
Education. The single mother of four attended Nsuube Primary School from 1973 to 1980. She then joined Mt St Mary’s Namagunga for her O-Level in 1984. She completed her A-Level from the same school in 1987. From 1987 to 1990, she attended Makerere University where she obtained a Bachelor of Laws. In June 1992, she acquired a Diploma in Legal Practice. She lost her husband in 2006.
Work experience. On August 12, 1992, she was appointed a land officer in the Ministry of Lands and Housing. In May 1994, she was appointed State Attorney. On February 11, 2002, she was promoted to Principal State Attorney. On August 16, 2007, she was promoted to Senior Principal State attorney. In January 2015, she was assigned higher duties of Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions in the Department of International Crimes Division.
I nearly witnessed the murder - Kagezi’s father
“My name is Kaggwa Sserwadda. It is difficult to know whether there have been people trailing the late Joan Kagezi because she has not been talking much about such things but I know she has been handling the case of the 2010 bombing suspects.
This is my daughter and I do not stay with her but I work in the vicinity. On Monday, I was returning from work and had reached Kiwatule in a taxi. I saw a vehicle which looked like that of Joan and there was commotion around it.
I requested the taxi driver to stop and I jumped out to move towards the commotion. This was around 7:20pm. At that time, they were removing the body from her vehicle but I did not see the body until we reached Mulago hospital.
I found the body still in the vehicle and Akullo (CIID boss) was examining it and maybe she was still alive since Akullo is the one who pulled her from the pedal because the neck had fallen. She was shot as soon as she stopped at the kiosk. Someone shot her through the window.
There were three children in the vehicle, two were from school and other had accompanied her mother to pick the others. She came from South Africa for the Easter holiday.
She was shot in the neck but I did not try to see the wound because it was a fearful scene. Burial arrangements are not in our hands because the Ministry of Internal Affairs has taken over.
Kagezi was shot while in the car - EYE WITNESS
Stephen Serufusa, who was present at the shooting scene, said there were three children in her vehicle and the eldest of them, a girl, came out of the vehicle from the co-driver’s seat to pick up fruits which Kagezi had bought as she remained at the steering wheel.
“As the girl was walking back to the vehicle, a boda boda rider carrying a passenger wearing a brown jacket, approached the pick-up from the right hand side and stopped at the driver’s window, knocked at the window which had been raised up and we immediately heard two gunshots. And then the boda boda sped off towards Najjeera.”
She ignored threats - RELATIVE
“I am Francis Kyagaba, the younger brother of the late husband of Joan Kagezi, who died in 2006.
Joan was the kind who would not backtrack on her decision. If she settled for anything, she stuck to it without any amount of intimidation. She told me of people blowing up her security lights and calling anonymously to threaten her, but she said these were cowards and she would not be threatened.
I do not know whether she reported to the police because this was about nine months ago. She would talk about it jokingly and say: ‘Can you imagine!’ . But she would say it jokingly. Sometimes she would tell me: ‘Francis, I am going to court but I do not understand what is happening,’ and she would laugh it off. She loved her job.
She had policemen here but I do not know if these were enough security for her. I know thieves tried to break into the house in 2013.
She talked of a boda boda incident where she was being followed but she did not take it as a major incident. I last spoke to her a week ago when we had lost a relative and she asked me why I had not informed her about the death.
As told to Stephen Otage
What ciid boss saw
“It was around 7:30pm as I as driving towards Najjeera, just before reaching the Kigoowa Catholic Church. I heard two gun shots and I told my escorts that those were gunshots.
I asked my bodyguard to check the time and make a call to Mr Musana. As we drove a few metres ahead, I heard children wailing, ‘Mummy, mummy!’ and when I looked back, I recognised that it was a government registered vehicle number UG. 0586J. We parked in front of it and I got out to check what was wrong.
On getting closer, I saw a woman on the driver’s seat bleeding from the neck and I checked if she still had some life and when my bodyguards felt she was breathing a bit, I asked them to transfer her to my vehicle and take her to Mulago hospital with the children.
I kept communicating with my driver to monitor the situation because it was the only number I had on me but when they reached Mulago Casualty Unit, they told me that she had died.
My car was between five to seven cars away from the deceased’s pick up when I heard the bullets and I am sure they shot around the neck with two bullets.”
Grace Akullo, CIID boss
Nicholas Opiyo, a city lawyer. “My heart bleeds. I still can’t believe it. Ms Kagezi is one of the kindest, humblest and brilliant prosecutors I know... . I have travelled the world with her for meetings. Rest in Peace Joan. This act of cowardice and criminality has no place in our society. These cowards must be sought after, arrested and should be held to account and must face the full extent of the law.”
Caleb Alaka, a defence lawyer in the bomb case described the slain prosecutor as a warm lawyer who prosecuted her cases with care to see that society is free from crime. Mr Alaka said his last words with her came last Thursday when he complimented her for being smart.