Septic Tank Case: DNA Analyst, Village Secretary Testify in Court

In a significant development in the murder case against senior accountant Francis Onebe and his security guard Bonny Oriekot, the prosecution presented two witnesses in court Wednesday. The duo stands accused of murdering Onebe’s wife, Mary Immaculate Aiso Onebe, whose body was discovered in a septic tank at their matrimonial home in September 2021.

The trial, which commenced on Tuesday, saw the accused enter pleas of not guilty. On Wednesday the prosecution led by Sharifa Nalwanga, called its first witness to the stand Assistant Superintendent of Police Immaculate Atuhairwe, the lead DNA analyst. Atuhairwe informed the court that on September 13, 2021, she received samples, including bones and a tooth extracted from the body found in the septic tank.

She also noted that they obtained a swab from Mildred Ivy Inapo, believed to be the deceased’s daughter. Atuhairwe told the court that the DNA analysis report conclusively established the victim’s identity as a female black American. She said comparing the victim’s DNA with Inapo’s, the analysis indicated a genetic relationship consistent with that of mother and daughter.

During the cross-examination, the defense lead counsel Patrick Kasumba probed Atuhairwe on whether she had been specifically instructed to determine the paternity of the samples and investigate the ethnic background of the Onebe family. Atuhairwe clarified that the term “paternity” in their analysis software denotes kinship, encompassing both male and female relationships.

As for ethnicity, the program categorizes individuals into Caucasian, Hispanic, or Black American groups, with individuals of black origin falling under the Black American category. The DNA report was subsequently admitted as an identification document, strengthening the prosecution’s case. Following Atuhairwe’s testimony, the prosecution presented their second witness, Godfrey Akena, the General Secretary of Lower Mawanga zone in Buziga parish, Munyonyo, Makindye Division, where Onebe resides.

Akena, a longtime acquaintance of the accused couple, provided critical information regarding the events leading up to the discovery of the victim’s body. Akena recalled an encounter with Immaculate Aiso Onebe on January 6, 2021, at his shop. Aiso had inquired about simsim paste and millet, which Akena’s store did not have. Consequently, she proceeded to a nearby shop. The next day, January 7, Akena received information from a woman in their neighborhood that Onebe had spent part of the previous evening searching for his wife.

Akena was later informed of the same by Onebe himself. Concerned about Aiso’s safety, Akena mobilized a group of youths to conduct a thorough search of the surrounding swamp, hoping to locate her either alive or dead. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain. Akena’s testimony took a chilling turn as he recounted his involvement in the discovery of the victim’s remains. On September 8, 2021, he was summoned to Onebe’s residence, where he met several police officers.

They guided him to the rear of the house, where he witnessed a haunting sight: the lifeless body of Aiso submerged in the septic tank. He told the court that he saw a body lying facing up, the head left with just the skull and the left palm couldn’t be seen. He also says the body had knickers on. He was then asked to narrate what he saw to a police officer who reduced it into writing, gave him a copy to read, and later append his signature.

Akena and the police officer searched the house with the persistence of Onebe. There, he recalled the police recovering a white diary and about seven letters from the wardrobe in the master bedroom. During cross-examination, however, it was realized that the police search certificate was dated September 8, 2021. Akena’s statement read September 9th, 2021 despite him testifying that he made the statement on the same day of the search.

Akena told the court that the officer who wrote the statement could have made a mistake, insisting that he made the statement on September 8th, 2021. The trial resumes today. The prosecution has lined up four witnesses.

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