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Crime Africa

Eyewitness identifies Judge as murder suspect



In an unusual turn of events at the trial of Zephania Ndalawa, accused of intentional homicide, the third witness, a nine-year-old Salome Cheyo, has identified Judge Graffin Mwakapeje as the perpetrator of the murder of Thomas Masumbuko.

Salome, a second-grade student at Burigi Primary School, took the stand to testify about the murder of Thomas Masumbuko (12), who was found dead after being tied up with ropes around his legs and hands, with a cloth over his face, and with a gag in his mouth, causing him to suffocate.

During the proceedings led by State attorney Musa Mlawa, Salome left the witness box to point out the suspect, walking directly to the judge and identifying him.

Even as she returned to the stand from the judge’s place, Lawyer Mlawa asked her again about the white person who pursued her on the day of the incident. The child insisted it was the judge presiding over the case, prompting laughter in the courtroom.

Previously, during her testimony, Salome, who struggled to answer questions about her understanding of concepts like sin or truth, was allowed to proceed without taking an oath due to her difficulty in comprehending the questions posed by the judge.

In her account, she described encountering a motorbike on August 19, 2023, while fetching water, where she was pursued and had her bucket stolen.

She also recounted being grabbed and taken to her grandmother’s house, where she later found her uncle bound and bleeding. After escaping, she sought refuge with her aunt, only to discover Thomas Masumbuko, also bound and suffocated with a cloth over his face.

Under questioning by Lawyer Mlawa, Salome described the perpetrator as tall and white, someone who helps carry produce during harvests. Following the lawyer’s request, she identified the suspect as present in the courtroom, pointing directly to the judge presiding over the case.

Under cross-examination by Defense Counsel Beatrice Amos, Salome stated she did not know the accused in the dock and was unfamiliar with the motorbike presented as evidence in court.

Another witness, Leticia Herman (33), Thomas Masumbuko’s mother, described finding her son bound and bloodied at home, alongside her brother who had also been attacked.

The trial continues at the Geita Court, with the prosecution presenting its witnesses.



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