- The killings in Uganda has shocked the country and tainted the image of the country
- Dangerous areas include Bushenyi, Luwero, Masaka, Kampala
- Journalists among those kidnapped but survived being killed
- Women are the main target of kidnappers as motives remain mystery
By Winnie Kiiza
Kampala-Fellow Countrymen and women, I come to you in pain and with a heavy heart; I am in pain as a mother, a woman, a leader and a Ugandan. It demeans us as a nation and erodes our pride as a people waking up every passing day to news of kidnaps, murders, shootouts and discovered bodies.
We keep finding bodies. It was once a month then once every two or three weeks then every week. In almost all these, telephones are used but never traced. It should not be lost to us that the justification for the registration of SIM Cards was to track possible criminal use of these cards. UCC is quick to switch off social media during elections but not track criminals using phones. We must do something and do it now.
Since 2017 alone, we have witnessed numerous cases of murder in cold blood including Rwamutwe John Hedex in Bushenyi, Allan Kikonyogo in Luwero, Nyombi Pavin in Masaka, Nabukala Aisha in Mukono, Oguti Godfrey in Njeru, not forgetting the murders in Kasese, Bundibugyo, Teso, Gulu, and the infamous gruesome spate of killings of close to 30 women later found dumped in areas of Entebbe and Nansana. Many of the mostly young women were raped and strangled, some had sticks shoved into their private parts, others had body parts sawn off.
The same year, 2017 registered a heightened frequency of violent and often fatal carjacking at the victims’ residences while they opened or were waiting to be opened for. This dreadful trend which was localized to Kampala suburbs like Najjeera, Kiwatule, Naalya and Naguru has like cancer, spread and is now commonplace, with no clear lines of approach by the Police.
AIGP Kawesi was gunned down and so were families in Masaka and Bukomansimbi recently. Joan Kagezi is almost rubbed off the files and so are the Muslim clerics. Many deaths are unexplained. There is no report made and there will probably be none in the foreseeable future. Our country’s armed forces have since the Kasese Massacres been in active combat in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo but without any appraisals, explanations or updates by the Executive branch on what military objective has caused this deployment of our men and women in uniform. There is no apparent exit strategy or timeline for completion of this particular incursion—without parliamentary approval—into a neighboring state.
Late Felix Kawesi who was also killed.
Journalists and other media practitioners have not been spared by this downward spiral. Several, including Isaac Bakka and Charles Etukuri have been abducted and kept incommunicado only to be released under questionable circumstances, without the slightest regard for criminal procedure. About 8 foreign nationals have been found dead in Ugandan hotels in less than a month. No conclusive reports in sight other than the usual hide behind drugs and narcotics as if they must only be taken in Uganda.
Yesterday, a dark cloud hovered over Hoima as Susan Magara, 28 was being buried. Family and friends are grieving in uncontrolled pain but probably to our security agencies, it is another statistic. The society is traumatized, desperate and living in continuous fright.
Puzzling is the fact that one can no longer tell a genuine security operation from a kidnap; the methods are the same; armed people in civilian attire acting very unprofessionally, whether at court premises, construction site like was the case with the Congolese lady in Makindye; on the road as was the case of hapless Susan, at office as happened at New Vision the other day. The end is a body dumped in the bush, an appearance after days and being told one was held by a security outfit, and/or a dumping in a government prison under some fictitious charge.
The police have just concluded a two day live televised Police Council Meeting. Their response and that of the state to such is predictable. The police in this country have zeal for only opposition breakup and recognition. Of course they don’t have the capacity to investigate this and the other cases. (Former DIGP Julius Odwe explained this) especially since replacing the amiable Special Branch with cadre CIIDs and lately Flying Squad that literally flies everywhere and nowhere.
What they will do as always is to arrest about 50 hapless wanainchi from their database of criminals, parade them to great fanfare, then President Museveni will visit the family and donate 10 million shillings (as if this is comparable to life) while taking ‘notes’ on his folded notebook. He will ramble about how it was worse off in Obote days, pledge to install street CCTV Cameras and then whiz off to the next borehole launch or to his bottled irrigation farm to harvest 6 months old matooke!!
Do we as a country expect any better when confessed criminal are the Police informers and support teams; gun brandishing is the new swag in town; kifeesi groups are attacking people in broad day light and robbing them clean in full view of the security apparatus and TV cameras (Remember at Case Hospital after the death of Mowzey Radio and at busy road junctions). We never see any apprehending of culprits. Have we asked ourselves where the street kids being paid as low as 50,000 shillings to kill, as reported in the media recently, go when they grow up and are no longer seen on the streets?
In late August police announced the arrest of more than 30 people, charging 13 of them with “murder and terrorism”, but no evidence has yet been made public and the killings have continued, sometimes forcing residents to take matters into their own hands. The first bodies were found in February but nobody seemed to notice a pattern. Someone goes missing then days later, sometimes a week, their decomposing body is discovered. But at that place there’s no blood and no signs of a struggle.
Successive Police spokespersons have made similar choreographed statements dismissing widespread fears of a serial killer, instead blaming “an organized criminal gang with strong links to ritual murders and a possibility of “domestic violence” as another factor. “We don’t have one serial killer on the loose, but we have a group of people,” AIGP Asan Kasingye once told a press conference.
He further said that some of the murders were related to land, and then they gravitated to domestic violence. “Over half of these women were prostitutes, while the others were engaged in several personal relationships, and they were taken advantage of.” Kasingye added. On Sunday 25th February, 2018, I saw SSP Emilian Kayima tell the country on NTV Fourth Estate Program, that they have put a stop to killings!!
The trend is always to taint the character of women, and this is why the police are claiming that the victims are prostitutes, even though research shows that the majority are not. I have seen comments that Susan played a boyfriend: imagine!! It shouldn’t matter anyway; no one deserves to be killed like that.
In parliament, the minister of internal affairs, Jeje Odongo, a military general, blamed the “Illuminati”, as being responsible for the killings of women in Entebbe and Nansana.
Police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura has insisted that “we are on top of the situation” but the words are little comfort to fearful women and victims’ relatives. At first, Kale Kayihura blamed domestic violence. Later, he blamed unemployment, drug abuse and criminal gangs.
Odongo then contradicted police claiming to know that “two businessmen” had hired a convicted serial killer to carry out ritual murders to bring them prosperity. He told the country that the man had been arrested and confessed to killing nine women whom he strangled and collected their blood. However, like the police, Odongo provided no evidence to support his story leaving Ugandan agape and still afraid.
All the above have occurred and continue to occur against the backdrop of a rumoured but increasingly apparent power struggle between the Minister for Security Henry Tumukunde and the police chief Kale Kayihura. The latest manifestation of this gridlock is the latter’s written instruction to all police officers not to render information about the police if arrested and questioned by other security organs or personnel. The inter agency rivalry is real. These rivalries are not new. Different security agencies must vie for the attention of the president, for resources, for recognition. It looks like if you don’t compete, you’re out of the game.
Uganda’s reputation for hospitality, tourism and commercial prospects for investment has inevitably been injured and as a major partner and donor, the United States has issued a Travel Advisory to its citizens—urging caution. The effect of such an advisory note, on an already struggling economy, is devastating.
The remaining NRM claim to relevance; of stamping out extra judicial killings, murders and kidnaps to allow the people to sleep soundly-twebaka tulo- is thoroughly eroded.
I am disappointed in the way this situation is being managed, and I place all weight on the state to seek justice. You owe a duty to Ugandans to guarantee them safety without harassment. The 100 million bounty is a mockery. And don’t tell me that I should not comment on matters of security as if am less a Ugandan.
My call to the institution I belong to, Parliament is that we should be recalled from recess and we put a policy end to this flattery and thoroughly discuss the security in our country. We can’t continue feasting as it was in Kiboga while hapless Ugandans are continually shot dead. If those responsible for the security of this country are not taking responsibility and stepping aside, Parliament should show them the exit. Most have overstayed their welcome.
The Writer is Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Kiiza Winfred
Editor’s Note: This statement was published verbatim due to the gravity of the matter in Uganda