Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a.k.a. “general torture” and son of dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni. Photo: Facebook
[My Free Thoughts]
On January 25, 2022 through Kitalya Mini Maximum Prison video teleconferencing, I appeared before Judge Dr. Douglas Singiza of Buganda Road court, who granted me a cash bail of 500,000 shillings ($140 — significant in a country where per capita income is about $900) and each of my sureties a non cash bond of 10,000,000 shillings ($2,796). I was further instructed to surrender my Ugandan passport with the court and also barred from speaking to the media about the case. The preposterous charges against me was “disturbing the peace of the president” and “offensive communication.”
Earlier, I had through my lawyer Eron Kiiza applied for the bail in order to get extensive medical attention from independent doctors in Uganda or abroad. I had not received any medical attention in prison where I was dumped after the most harrowing torture I was subjected to by the Special Forces Command (SFC) dungeon under the command of Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the commander the army’s Land Forces and son of dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni.
It was around 2:40 pm when I was escorted out of Kitalya prison by one prison warden. Through the several tall metal heavily guarded gates we sauntered out to the shimmering hot sun. I had spent almost two weeks at Kitalya mini maximum prison. Two weeks before that I was held at the SFC detention center. The breeze of fresh air, the wind, the undisrupted sunlight, the smell of flowering vegetation—all these combined to let me feel like I was savoring delicacies after a long without.
As I limped out of the prison building’s exit gate towards the barrier gate, I wondered why my lawyer Kiiza and my relatives were nowhere to be seen. I had been told that they had brought the release order and had come to pick me. The warden told me that they were all in the visitors’ parking area, more than 400 yards from the gate.
But when we neared the main barrier gate, my heart dropped when I saw a double cabin pickup vehicle whose number plates were covered with newspapers, parked strategically at the gate with its engine humming. I immediately knew that my tormentors had come back to re-arrest me. When I asked the warden why the suspicious vehicle was where parking was prohibited, he instructed me to keep moving forward and quickly he branched off to a nearby office block.
Sensing a trap, I limped as fast as I could after the warden. I had taken about six strides when six men in civilian clothes burst from a corn field, sprinted toward me and surrounded me. They were all masked and in filthy clothes. Having endured weeks of torture this was the last thing I wanted to see.
“What do you want from me?” I yelled, angrily.
“Kakwenza, can you walk?” the one who appeared to be ringleader asked.
“Don’t you see that I’m sick and limping?” I retorted.
Bobi Wine inspects the author’s back shortly after his release on bail. Photo: Twitter
Suddenly, the men lifted me and carried me to the waiting double cabin pickup. I was surprised that I wasn’t handled roughly. Two young men with pistols sat on either side of me. There was a malodorous stench of stale urine or sweat emanating from them. Were these chamchas who were too busy kidnaping people for torture and with no time for showers? I thought. More of them sat behind me. The vehicle avoided the main exit route of the prison where my welcoming party were waiting.
In about 550 yards we met two military Police trucks full of uniformed red top officers. One of the trucks led the way with sirens screaming. Our double cabin was now in the middle and another truck followed behind us. They made me feel like the most feared person in Uganda. I thought about the tremendous abuse of taxpayers’ money by the regime. All the vehicles were fueled; each of the chamchas and military officers earned per diem; all of this to persecute me, a lanky 33-year-old broke bloke, armed only with a pen and international recognition.
Through the dusty bumpy road that wound through remote verdant villages, we eventually connected to Wakiso district side and onto the paved road. I was driven at bottleneck speed to Makindye Military Barracks on the outskirts of Kampala, the capital. The sun was setting when the Double Cabin pickup pulled into the bushy lawn of the barracks. Would I soon be dragged to some room where the beating and torture would resume?
Two lanky and smartly dressed officers in Military Police uniform helped me alight from the vehicle. I was ushered into a fully-contained two bedroom house. One officer who wore a name tag that read “Haggai” introduced me to a tall plump richly-melanated lady who handed me two pairs of red Military Police prison uniforms, a bottle of water, and instructed me to shower, put on the uniform, keep my clothes in the closet, and get some sleep.
“I am hungry,” I told her. “I need to eat, be told why I am here. I need to see a doctor and also communicate with my lawyer immediately.”
The lady offered a nice smile, pulled out a small cheap button phone, and rang another officer who showed up immediately.
“He looks tough and unwell. We should call the doctor to examine him immediately,” the lady said.
The doctor had already left the barracks but the officer phoned and instructed him to return.
I was given paper and pen and instructed to write down everything I needed in the house and also what kind of meals I wanted to eat every day. By now, I realized that the rogues had kidnapped me and probably wanted to keep me at the barracks for an extended period so my wounds from the torture could heal. The regime could not afford to have the world see my ugly wounds in the raw.
I listed the foodstuffs and drinks I needed. I also needed a radio, shower gel, lotion, and a shaver. All the requisition I made were delivered in about 30 minutes.
The doctor soon arrived and instructed me to undress and lay prostrate on the bed. He performed a manual examination for about 40 minutes. I could see his look of exasperation when he saw the my scarred body. He asked what had happened.
“I was beaten by your friends,” I said.
“This is gross,” the doctor said.
He walked into the corridor and I soon overheard him on the phone. “This man is not in a good health condition to be here,” I heard the doctor said. “Please release him. Please release him.” As he walked away and his voice became fainter, I could still hear him repeating, “Please release him.”
At about 11 p.m., Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, son of dictator Yoweri Museveni, walked in wearing a maroon t-shirt which he had tucked into gray khaki pants. The black cap hid the guilt in his eyes. The mustache was well combed. He looked relaxed, as though he had been drinking the previous night.
“Kakwenza, I am here to finalize the deal with you,” Muhoozi said as he deposited his whole obese self into a plastic chair.
“Which deal?” I said, feigning ignorance. Of course I knew he was referring to “offer” that I accept a job and never again write anything critical about the regime.
“Of the offers, and not writing again,” he retorted.
“I am not in the right mental state to respond now. Allow me to see my doctor and get medication then we’ll talk,” I begged.
“But no media, okay? Let me know in case you need anything,” Muhoozi said.
The main who had been responsible for the ugly wounds on my body was now sounding magnanimous.
“Now I am giving you an escort to your home, okay?” Muhoozi said, then marched out of the room.
At 3:30 a.m., I was dropped at the gate of my home in Iganga by two military vehicles full of soldiers and one of those unmarked vehicles Ugandans call a drone.
Editor’s Note: Please support the petition calling for the indictment of Gen. Muhoozi by the International Criminal Court for the crimes of torture he’s presiding over in Uganda.