Kenneth Akena killer Mathew Kanyamunyu is finally a free man

Gunshot residues found on Matthew Kanyamunyu's clothes
Mathew Kanyamunyu, the key suspect in the murder of child rights activist Kenneth Akena

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Kampala businessman, Mathew Kanyamunyu has been released from prison after serving three years and five months sentence for killing social worker Kenneth Akena in 2016.

Initially sentenced to five years and one month in jail in 2020, Mathew Kanyamunyu is finally a free man, having served three years and five months following remission.

The manslaughter charge stemmed from an incident on November 12, 2016, along the Kampala-Jinja Highway, where Kanyamunyu acknowledged causing Akena’s death during a scuffle following a motor accident. He admitted his culpability as part of a plea bargain, which led to the reduction of his murder charge to manslaughter by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The Director of Public Prosecution would then withdraw charges against his Burundian girlfriend, Cynthia Munwangari whom he was with in the car, but sentenced Kanyamunyu with manslaughter on November 12, 2020.

During the court proceedings, Kanyamunyu’s lawyer, Peter Kabatsi, affirmed his client’s acknowledgment of unlawfully causing Akena’s death and explained the circumstances leading to the fatal shooting.

Judge warns Kanyamunyu lawyers against disrespectful language
Mathew Kanyamunyu (left) and Cynthia Munwangari while appearing before High Court in Kampala on 8th January, 2020.

“Therefore Kanyamunyu has accepted before court that on the 12th November 2016 at Kampala Jinja Highway he unlawfully caused the death of Kenneth Akena. On the fateful day, Kanyamunyu and Akena got involved in a motor accident which resulted into a scuffle and Kanyamunyu shot Akena in the chest,” his lawyer Peter Kabatsi said then.

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Justice Stephen Mubiru considered Kanyamunyu’s status as a first-time offender and his actions in taking the victim to the hospital, resulting in a reduced sentence. The court accepted his plea agreement, sentencing him to six years in prison, with a reduction of 11 months, effectively rendering it a five-year sentence.

In preparation for his court appearance, Kanyamunyu participated in a traditional ritual known as Mato Oput in 2020. During this ceremony, held at the Ker Kwaro Acholi (Acholi Chiefdom), he reportedly confessed to the killing and was directed by Acholi elders to pay restitution consisting of ten cows and three goats.