Followers of Wilson Bushara, a self-styled prophet, have re-grouped in Luwero district, sparking off fresh fears among the residents.
The group, comprising about 200 people, the majority of whom are women, have camped at Mbale Forest Reserve in Nalongo LC-I, Kakabale parish in Butuntumula sub-county.
They have reportedly been in the area for the last two months, but the number has gradually increased, according to the local leaders. The LC-II chairperson, John Wasswa, told Sunday Monitor, May 18 that the cult members have now formed mobile churches.
They move in small groups of about four to eight people and conduct prayers on roadsides.
Some residents complained to Sunday Monitor that the group had failed to pay their debts from shops in the area. The followers reportedly loiter in the trading centre and the nearby villages, asking for food and other items.
These are part of the over 1,000 followers who were dispersed from their camp at Bukoto in Nakaseke county on Sept. 18, 1999 after the police received reports that they were committing crimes, including defilement, rape, abduction and theft. "Prophet" Bushara escaped from the camp but was later arrested from Nabidongo village in Iganga district.
The regrouping has caused fresh panic among residents, who fear that an incident similar to that of the burning of hundreds of followers of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God in Kanungu, could occur in Luwero.
An area LC-I official, Fred Sekandi, told Sunday Monitor that the village council, chaired by Moses Walwo, had resolved to have the group dispersed.
Bushara was the founder of the World Message Last Warning Church' and proclaimed that the world would end on June 30, 1999.
Kampala High Court May 13 discharged "Prophet" and leader of the World Last Message Warning Church, Wilson Bushara, over defilement charges.
It had been alleged that Bushara between August and September 18,1999 in Gomba village, Mpigi district and in Bukoto village, Luwero district, had unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl of 15 years then.
The case was dismissed after state attorney David Ndamurani told the presiding judge, Mary Maitum that the case could not continue because two principal witnesses were lacking.
"My lord, according to the return of service, the complainant Justine Mbabazi and mother of victim, disappeared from her known address and has never been seen again in her locality. Efforts to trace the victim herself, Maria Nakayima have equally proved futile," Ndamurani told court parked with his followers.
"You'll be discharged but it doesn't mean that you're acquitted. It means that when the evidence is available, you may be re-arrested and the case may still be hanging on you," the Judge said.
Bushara's case has been one of the 15 defilement cases of the total 30 criminal cases Justice Maitum started hearing May 3.
Bushara represented by Nsubuga Mubiru however didn't see his freedom as he had to be taken back to Luzira prison pending yet another defilement case not yet fixed for hearing.
Bushara, who was arrested July 18 last year in Iganga after he was flashed out of his camp in Kikamulo-Bukoto, Luwero district on Sept. 18, 1999. Bushara who attracted Media attention when he proclaimed that the world would end on June 30, 2000 and reportedly convinced his followers to sell their property and buy places in heaven revealed his connection with his said victim and his future plan for his cult.
The acting Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Katumba Wamala, has instructed the CID and Special Branch departments to investigate the new religion whose members worship fire, rocks and walk on crushed ice.
Katumba told The New Vision on Monday, "I told CID and Special Branch to find out more about that religion and implications it could have. After that we can tell if they are dangerous or not."
This comes in the wake of rife speculation about the motives of the religion whose members, it is reported, include ministers of the Buganda Kingdom.
About a fortnight ago, followers of the little known religion held a colourful festival at Busabala landing site. The Buganda ministers Kayiira Gajule, in-charge of culture and Sewava Serubiri for community development, attended it.
The religion also embraces Jesus Christ, reports said last week.
The Central Regional Police Commander, Mr. Chris Bakesiima, said the leader of the religion, a traditional healer identified only as Ndawula and other members had asked for permission to transfer from Kakiri to Busabala where they said they were to hold a cultural festival.
Festival organisers reportedly never told the Police they would travel with more than 100 vehicles packed with people going for this festival. But the Police managed to provide them with traffic guidance.
Bakesiima said, "In future we might not deal with them." He said, "Initially we were not aware." He said he only learnt the rest about their activities from the media. "We were surprised to learn that they were a religious community yet they had told us that they are just a cultural organisation," he said.
Last year a little known cult, The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, burnt more than 350 of its followers in Kanungu, Rukungiri.
Index Page: Ten Commandments of God: Tragedy in Uganda
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