Ugandan cabinet minister, Mary Goretti Kitutu Kimono will be spending Easter in prison after she was charged to court over theft of thousands of metal roofing sheets.
Local media reports that the scandal involves Kimono’s distribution of roofing materials meant for the vulnerable in the northeastern Karamoja region to her relatives and some other officials.
A court ordered that the minister be remanded in custody until next Wednesday, according to BBC News.
She, however, pleaded not guilty, but was denied bail.
“I have understood the charge and it’s not true,” Kimono told the court.
The Inspector general of government alleged that no less than 10 senior government officials, comprising the vice-president, the prime minister, the parliamentary Speaker and other ministers have received some of the stolen corrugated iron.
About 14,500 iron sheets were reported missing. Some of the officials told a parliamentary committee investigating the corruption scandal that they had not asked for them.
The prime minister has apologised and urged other officials to return the sheets.
House Speaker Anita Among told the House that she had returned the ones she had received.
Kitutu-Kimono was arraigned alongside her brother, Michael Naboya Kitutu, who pleaded not guilty to receiving 100 of the corrugated iron sheets.
Her lawyer had applied for bail, arguing that she was a high-profile senior citizen, had medical complications and would not interfere with prosecution witnesses.
But the prosecution fought for her to remain in custody, telling the court that Kitutu had prevented her mother, in whose house some sheets were recovered, from recording a statement to the police.
Her sister-in-law, niece and daughter-in-law, all alleged to be involved in the scandal, are on the run.