Roofing-Sheets Scandal: Ugandan Minister Kitutu to Spend Easter in Jail

Uganda's Kitutu to Spend Easter in Jail Over Roofing Sheets Scandal (News Central TV)

After being charged in connection with the theft of thousands of metal roofing sheets, a Ugandan cabinet official, Mary Goretti Kitutu Kimono will spend Easter in jail. The roofing sheets were meant for vulnerable people in the Karamoja region’s north-east.

The minister for the region, Mary Kitutu, pleaded not guilty in court but was granted bail. At least ten more senior government officials are suspected of receiving some of the stolen corrugated iron.

According to the inspector general of government, these individuals include the vice-president, prime minister, Speaker, and other ministers. Some of them testified before a parliamentary committee probing the corruption case involving 14,500 missing iron sheets that they had not requested them. The prime minister has apologised and asked that the sheets be returned. Speaker Anita Among announced to the chamber that she had returned the ones she had received. According to local media, one minister was recently obliged to remove some from the top of his goat shed.

Uganda's Kitutu to Spend Easter in Jail Over Roofing Sheets Scandal (News Central TV)

Karamoja has for decades endured severe droughts and flooding when it rains, leaving people in the semi-arid North-eastern province reliant on help. However, instead of delivering the roofing materials to Karamoja communities, the Minister allegedly handed them to her family and officials.

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“I have understood the charge and it’s not true,” Kitutu said firmly in court.

She was charged with obtaining 100 corrugated iron sheets alongside her brother, Michael Naboya Kitutu, who pleaded not guilty. On arriving at the court, she covered her head and face with a piece of cloth to protect herself from the clamouring reporters. Her lawyer had requested bail, claiming that she was a prominent senior person with medical issues who would not interfere with prosecution witnesses.

However, the prosecution argued in court that Mrs Kitutu had prevented her mother, from whom some sheets were recovered, from recording a statement to the police. Her sister-in-law, niece, and daughter-in-law are all suspected of being implicated in the controversy.

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Mrs Kitutu grew to fame as an environmental scientist and was active in mapping her native region in Mt Elgon, which is prone to landslides. She was elected to the House of Commons in 2016 and has held previous ministerial positions, including the energy and minerals ministries.

Her future would be decided after police investigations are completed, according to Communications Minister Chris Baryomunsi. Also, authorities say Minister Kitutu will be detained until next Wednesday.

President Yoweri Museveni has demanded that all individuals involved be prosecuted. No other officials have been charged in connection with the issue.

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