Patrick Okello, the commissioner of Labor in the Ministry of Labor and Industrial Relations, is the first witness produced by the prosecution pinning former Minister of Labor, Herbert Kabafunzaki, accused alongside two others for soliciting a bribe from Mohammed Hamid of Aya Group to clear his name against Sexual harassment claims from one of his employees.
In his testimony before Anti-corruption Court Judge, Justice Margret Tibulya, Okello has informed court that he advised Kabafunzaki not to engage in direct investigations of the sexual harassment claims which was reported by Jamila Apondo, but he neglected this advice.
“He told me that he had received a complaint about Mohammed Hamid which he asked me to join him in investigations, but I advised him to refer it to a team of experts within the ministry but things didn’t move on well. I feared repercussions and being accused of insubordination,” Okello said.
Okello added that he later on went to Pearl of Africa Hotel (Hilton) in Nakasero as he had been ordered by the minister and after a few minutes from his arrival, the minster also arrived with two vehicles.
Kabafunzaki entered the hotel with a number of journalists but within a short period, he was called by an officer from Ntinda Police Post requiring him to move to their offices and identify whether two people who had been arrested for soliciting bribes were part of their staff.
“The two people who were arrested by then are those two people who accused with the minister i.e. Bruce and Mugabo. I identified that they were not our staff and thus warned them on extortion,” narrated Okello.
Okello notes that on returning, he found Kabafunzaki’s bodyguard chasing away managers at the hotel where the minister was going to meet casual workers of the place.
“After meeting the workers, the minster with other officials went to the Hotel’s board room for a meeting being chaired by the minister himself. He informed Mohammed that workers had informed him that they were being mistreated as well as demanding three months arrears but Mohammed denied this.”
The minister warned Mohammed for mistreating people and he asked for NSSF reduction schedule and employment contracts for all workers which were provided to him.
“On leaving the hotel, the two gentlemen; Bruce and Mugabo who had come with the minister forcefully entered my car and I drove them to our offices located at Simba Amanyo building in Kampala,” says Okello.
He adds that on the same day in the evening, Mohammed contacted him that somebody was demanding a bribe on behalf of the minister to clear his name against sexual harassment but on contacting the minister on whether he had sent anybody, his phone was off.
The following day, Okello saw Mohammed entering Kabafunzaki’s office at 6th floor Simba Amanyo building.
Hearing is still underway as the prosecution is expected to produce more witnesses in court.
Kabafunzaki, Brian Mugabo his political Assistant and Lubowa are alleged to have received Shs5 million as a bribe from businessman Mohammed Hamid, in order to clear his name from allegations of sexual harassment by one of his former employee.