South Sudanese ‘tycoon’ jailed in Uganda
Lawrence Lual Malong, a South Sudanese self-proclaimed “tycoon,” was sentenced to six years in jail for fraud by a Ugandan anti-corruption court.
Malong was imprisoned with Mike Lota, a Congolese citizen, and Gavana Thaddeus Zhikusoka, alias James Byaruhanga, a Ugandan lawyer. In a gold scam, the three were found guilty of robbing an Ethiopian of $1.9 million.
Malong received the worst punishment of six years in prison, while Lota and Zhikusoka received four and five years, respectively. On Tuesday, August 17, 2021, the three were sentenced to prison.
The three were apprehended on March 21, 2019, when Ugandan police officers ambushed them at a hotel in Kampala’s Kabalagala neighborhood.
They came before Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate Ketty Acaya to face accusations of collecting money under false pretenses from Dessie Wagnew in exchange for 150Kgs of gold.
They pled not guilty to the allegations, however, prompting Ugandan officials to detain them at the Luzira Prison for additional investigation.
During the mention of their case in 2019, the court heard that Wagnew met Malong via another common acquaintance, and then they discussed how they would try their hands in the gold trade.
Malong is reported to have assured the Ethiopian that he would assist the Ethiopian’s gold trade since he had a license to sell the product to China, Dubai, and other places.
And, when Wagnew paid the agreed-upon sum, he was offered repeated assurances that the gold they would buy from Congo and ship via Uganda would only be approved by Ugandan officials after it reached a “minimum weight of 600Kgs.”
Frustrated and desperate for answers, Wagnew filed a lawsuit against the three accused people in Ugandan courts in order to seek justice, which resulted in the arrests.
According to Ugandan media, the plaintiff told the court that if he did not recover his $1.9 million investment in the shady transaction, he would lose his property in South Africa.
Malong rose to prominence in 2017 after making a spectacular claim about donating millions of dollars to the Red Cross. However, the group immediately refuted these allegations.
Malong, who is only in his early thirties, became viral on social media after being featured on a Kenyan TV station, where he boasted about his riches live on air.
When asked where he got his money, the young South Sudanese replied, “My Lord Jesus Christ blessed me; I travel on luxury planes… I dwell in Presidential suites… “I am blessed,” he claimed, revealing that he would spend $2500 each night in high-end Nairobi hotels.