In the gospel according to John 8:7; Jesus says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one they all disappeared.
Recently, media has been awash with Ms. Sarah Bireete playing the role of Mother Teresa, by acting as a human rights advocate and an anti-corruption activist without ever confessing her own sins and refunding the $70,160 court ordered her to refund. In one of her tweets, she calls upon corrupt people to return the property they have taken from the government.
“This has become a tired script, the ministers who had no intention of taking Karamonja iron sheets should return them. That’s the only way it will take out the “corpus delicti” element in this saga,” tweeted Bireete.
Is she speaking from experience or it only applies to others? It is important to ask whether or not she returned US $70,160 to government, since she was ordered by the court to do so.
Sarah Bireete, while working as the National Coordinator for the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was indicted for abuse of office (count 1) contrary to S.11 (1) and embezzlement (count 2) contrary to S.14 (a) (iii) of the Anti-Corruption act 2009, presided over by Justice John Katutsi and later by the court of appeal.
According to the court, Bireete diverted government funds amounting to US$114,160 to a private account of great lakes youth, which she later withdrew and deposited on an account run by her sister Mariam Kyomugasho, who was not even a member of the organization for which she worked. The court questioned how money for official purposes could be sent to a personal account of a family member.
“Bireete deposited $114,160 on an account 0010172403 operated by her sister Mariam Kyomugasho,” the court statement read.
According to the presiding judge Katutsi, Bireete had used bribery and intimidation to gain access to large amounts of money, which allowed her to become a major player in the world of organized crime.
“The methods you used, as I have said before, earned you a front seat among the grand spiders at the center of the cartel of corruption,” said Katutsi.
In his statement, he said that the prosecution had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Bireete had embezzled the money that came into her possession by virtue of her employment status and which was the property of the Government.
During the court proceedings, her lawyer Anthony Ahimbisibwe, pleaded for a lenient sentence, claiming she is a mother and breadwinner of three children.
In spite of this, she was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment and disqualified from holding any public office for the next 10 years, and upon completion of her sentence, she was required to repay to the government $70,160.
Nevertheless, being a single mother should not have been a reason for Bireete’s corruption, as she embezzled money that had been returned to her care by the Bujumbura secretariat and made it disappear into a family member’s private account under her control.
Although she was later acquitted on a technicality by the Supreme Court, the government of Uganda never recovered money that had been placed under her care, and money she deposited in her sister’s bank account was not returned to government.
The bible in Mathew 7:3-5 says “Or how can you say to neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbors’ eye.”