Uganda: Things Fall Apart With Dozens of Unsolved Murders



Emilian Kayima, the police spokesperson

There have been several unsolved murders and disappearances in Uganda and now the public is saying —enough is enough. 

They want dictator Yoweri Museveni and his police and security forces to explain who are the people behind these murders?

The bodies of at least 24 brutally murdered young women have been discovered over the last year in and around Kampala the capital of Uganda.

In some cases the Uganda authorities would link these murders to preposterous theories such as “relationships going sour” or “ritual” killings. Many families also complain that police officers extort money just to provide them with information about the status of the investigations which in any case are going nowhere. 

Things are so bad that the U.S. State Department has issued a warning to Americans traveling to Uganda even though dictator Museveni is considered an obedient U.S. client.  “Exercise increased caution in Uganda due to crime. Violent crime, such as armed robbery, home invasion, and sexual assault, is common, especially in larger cities including Kampala and Entebbe. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime,” warns the State Department.

All the murders remain unresolved. Records reviewed by this reporter from the so-called Flying Squad Unit (FSU), a department of the Uganda Police Force (UPF), show that the murders are classified as: related to political coercion and abductions for ransom. Many of the files are blank. “Some arrests were made, and some cases are progressing well,” said Emilian Kayima, the police spokesperson. “We are in court. Many of them are remanded.

Asked for details about the arrested suspects and which specific cases he was referring to he said: “I will avail you with the details tomorrow.”

Rest assured this reporter will keep following up. 

“We have spent over 16 million shillings in search for my sister. Some security agents have turned the family into a cash machine where to get free money,” said Kirabira Shakuru, who cried while being interviewed, said. She was referring to her sister Saidat Kabanda. Sixteen million shillings is about $4,480, which is a fortune in a country where the World Bank estimates per capita income at about $670. 

She is understandably terrified by the thought of it all. The bodies of Saidat’s best friends, Patricia Nansubuga and Harriet Nantongo were discovered months ago. Both had sharp sticks inserted into their vaginas, perhaps as cover to make the murders appear as ritual killings.

It does not help that there is an open power-struggle going on between Uganda’s Police commander Gen. Kale Kayihura –until now Museveni’s hated enforcer– and Gen. Henry Tumukkunde, the minister in charge of security. Even the police officers who try to remain above the corruption are affected by this struggle between the men who are supposed to maintain law and order and stability. A Reuters news story speculates that it’s a sign that the dictator of 32 years Gen. Museveni has lost his grip.

Since October last, government agencies, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Internal Security Organization (ISO) arrested over six top police officers and detained them in at Makindye Military Police facility. Those still under military detention include: former head of Special Operations Unit, Senior Superintendent of Police Nixon Agasirwe; Commandant of the Police Professional Standards Unit, Joel Aguma; Flying Squad Operative, Faisal Katende, Crime Intelligence chief Magada, and others.

Saidat Kabanda, 32 years old, was last seen in the first week of January 2016 on her way for Friday prayer, according to her family. 

Saidat graduated from Makerere University with a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Economics. The family hoped that she would be their breadwinner. The little money they had has been drained by police officers who extort them with promises to solve Saidat’s disappearance. 

The family of Ibrahim Setaala Semugenze, a 31 year old lawyer, is also demanding that police solve the mystery behind his disappearance. Setaala worked with M/S Ajungule & Co. Advocates and doubled as a director at Bwebajja-based Sab Restaurant. He went missing in January 2016. “If he’s dead, we need to know and his body handed back to us,” one relative, who broke down in tears, said.

Fatuma Sendagire Nabiwemba, a senior prosecutor with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) who disappeared in December 2017, resurfaced last month. According to well-placed sources a large ransom was paid for her freedom. Efforts to talk to her, including her immediate bosses were declined. 

Another victim, Francis Ekalugar, 49, an accountant who worked with Case Clinic wasn’t so lucky.  Ekalugar went missing on January 2, 2018, whilst on his way to the bank with 15,000,000 shillings, or $4,200. Ekalugar’s body was days later discovered burnt beyond recognition more than 10 miles outside Kampala.

Susan Magara, 28, a daughter of John Magara the director of the Bwendero Dairy Farm in Hoima, disappeared on February 7, 2018, near her residence in Lungujja, a suburb of Kampala. There are reports a ransom of $1 million had been demanded for her freedom. Her body was discovered on February 25, 10 miles outside Kampala. 

Here are the names of some of the murder victims: Ayebazibwe Hellen, Birungi Maria, Kasowole Aisha, Komugisha Faith, Kyandali Juliet, Mulondo Beatrice, Mulondo Desire, Nabatanzi Edith, Nabiranga Maria, Nakachwa Teddy, Nakasinde Aisha, Nakimuli Rose, Nakintu Sarah Nakajo, Nalima Sarah, Nalule Jalia, Namazzi Joan, Nampijja Juliet, Namusisi Peninah, Nansubuga Gorett, Nansubuga Patricia, Nantongo Harriet, Wanyana Norah. 

The most notable feature–most come from central Buganda region.   


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