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"Citizens Concerned Open Security Office"

by Davis Weddi ("New Vision" (Kampala), April 30, 2000)

Kampala - Citizens Concerned, a local pressure group based in Kampala, has launched a security office from where to collect secret information, following the recent mass murders of cult members.
The group's Chief Director Lt. Richard Magezi said yesterday at their new office at Nsambya Estate that since the discovery of several mass graves around the country, people ought to start making early revelations, without fearing victimization.
The office was launched in the presence of more than 2000 members of the group.
Leading members accepted that they had not sought permission to set up this office and noted also that "since we are citizens concerned we are concerned about everything," as stated by Hajji Baker Katende a member of the group.
Katende told Sunday Vision that "the office will take all the information and investigate it hand in hand with the Local Councils."
"We shall also share this information with the security organs and the RDCs offices," he added and noted that the office will be open to everyone.
Citizens concerned claims they are a registered non-governmental organisation which has an object regarding security consciousness.
Members who attended the launch were also educated and encouraged to vote for the Movement during the forthcoming referendum.

"Mass Grave A Lesson" (Commentary)

("New Vision" (Kampala), April 30, 2000)

Kampala - After the discovery of a mass grave in a garage of a residential house in the city, it is no longer fair to blame police and other security agencies in Kanungu for failing to detect and nip in the bud the incident where more than 1,000 Ugandans perished.
What the discovery in Makindye proves is that Ugandans are generally relaxed about matters concerning their security.
How else can you explain a situation where over 50 people are killed and buried in a house in a densely populated city suburb, and no one in the neighbourhood, takes notice.
One cannot help wondering where the local LC officials, especially the defence secretary, and indeed all residents had gone off to, when an annex to the Kanungu mass graves was being set up in their backyard. It means one person can wipe out a whole neighbourhood, without anyone taking notice.
While it is the duty of police and other security agencies to ensure the security of all Ugandans, they need the public's cooperation and support, if they are to do their work properly.
To many Ugandans the idea of community policing is just another gimmick by government to run away from its responsibilites. They cannot be more wrong.
Deploying a security agent at every street will not protect Ugandans from the likes of Kibwetere. What will, is the involvement of every Ugandan in the security of their neighbourhood. We have to become our brother's keeper, for the sake of our security. That is the essence of community policing.

"How Many Will Kibwetere Kill When He Strikes Next Time?"

by Joachim Buwembo ("New Vision" (Kampala), April 30, 2000)

Kampala - It is not easy in our society to conceal person or a body. In fact even a foetus can not be concealed. If a woman becomes pregnant, all the curious neighbour within a few weeks. If it is an inexperienced teenager, the neighbours will know that she is carrying a child a child even before she herself discovers.. So - and - so's daughter must be in the family way," they will say.
"Don't you see how her skin has changed? I looked at neck closely and her pulse was racing away. Poor man, imagine all the money he has wasted educating her…" Should she cease being pregnant, many questions will be asked. "They must have removed the womb" (aborted), the neighbours will say.
But should the pregnancy disappear when it had grown to several months, the neighbours will suspect serious crime. They will search all the rubbish dumps and latrines around for the body of a baby. They will not let any body get away with infanticide. If they can't find the body, they will apply pressure on the girl to say where she dumped it.
It is therefore not possible to kill a few hundred people, whether in town or in the village, and bury them without anybody noticing, as Kibwetere is believed to have done. If we continue regarding this as simply the work of frenzied cultists, then we are courting trouble. We may never know what hit us because what has happened shows the security we are enjoying is mostly accidental. Our traditional neighbourhood watch and the security agencies could not stop Kibwetere from murdering over a thousand people.
We do not know how many more thousands may have been similarly killed over the years. Have there been any steps been taken to stop further killings of this or more sophisticated nature? Blaming Police and security agencies over these mass killings is not helpful; they are simply not equipped to deal with such sophisticated crime. Suspected serial killer Arinaitwe was nabbed by police after less than five murders. Is it conceivable then that police would fail to detect a hundred murders if they were planned and executed by an ordinary criminal?
Kibwetere is not Arinaitwe. He is not Itongwa. He has no combat record.
In fact the name Kibwetere to a southern ear sounds like 'idiot' or 'imbecile'. Did he have the capacity to plan and conceal mass murder? Mass murders are conducted openly by a powerful fascist system. To conduct secret mass murders takes more than just the desire and fanaticism to do so. As said earlier, concealing a death is not easy, even if it is of an unborn pregnancy.
Consider the many cases of child abuse that have been reported. This happens after curious neighbours notice that something is amiss. It could be a kid they have been seeing playing around. If they do not notice it for two or three days they will ask. And should they not receive a satisfactory answer they will get the LCs to search the house. That is how children have been found tied up in dark rooms or in goat houses.
We tend to notice so many things without even applying effort. There is a mentally sick man who walks in the along the roads through Mulago, Kamyokya, Ntinda, Nakawa, Luzira every morning. Some months ago he disappeared for a few weeks. Many commuters and motorists started asking where he had gone.
Is it then conceivable that a mother can disappear with several children and not a single relative or neighbour wonders to set the search machinery in motion? The massacre of 55 people in Mawanga, Makindye division, Kampala city, could not have taken place if its planners were mere religious fanatics.
This is an area dominated by Baganda and the presence of so many non Baganda as the victims were would have been noticed. Even if 55 people of the same ethnicity gathered in an area, they would be noticed. Just try and hold a small party in your compound. Within a short time, people will start peeping over the fence, trying to figure out how to gain access.
Moreover, there is a strong presence of Tabliq Muslims in the neighbourhood.
Could a gathering of 'balokole' - their bitter rivals - have escaped their notice?
The signs are not good. Over a month after the Kanungu inferno, there has been no significant break through. The motive has not even been established.
We only hear of wild street guesses that Kibwetere was under pressure to refund people's money from the property they surrendered to him.
Will burying our heads in the sand and pretending that Kibwetere's massacres were just a bad accident protect us? Will it stop the next Kibwetere from killing not a thousand but a million people?

"The Week That Was"

by Samuel Apedel ("New Vision" (Kampala), April 30, 2000)

Kampala - Multipartyists Come To Blows, More Cult Bodies Unearthed: The inhumanity of the prison services bore fruit on Wednesday. Over 50 of the prisoners who were forced to exhume about 400 rotting bodies in Kanungu with their bare hands were reported sick.
Was there any outrage by the concerned minister? No. All Edward Rugumayo the internal affairs minister could manage a statement saying the prisoners were indeed sick.
As for the abuse of their human rights, he said this never happened since the prisoners did not perform forced labour. Forced labour, according to Rugumayo's interpretation of the Constitution, does not include labour required during wars or emergencies threatening the community. Does the Constitution also justify the suicidal abuse of health of the prisoners at Kanungu?
Staying with the subject of mass murder, the Police and security services were served yet another humiliating slap in the face. Fifty-five bodies were exhumed in a house belonging to Kibwetere's Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God in the plush Buziga suburb of Kampala.
This time, the exhumation was handled expertly. Three pathologists and 20 well-equipped Kampala City Council workers from the cemetery department handled the sordid job. But the question remains how could this happen without the Police and military intelligence knowing? This was not surprising considering that the numbers the Police had given the public to call with any information about Kibwetere and his cult were wrong!
At least the Baganda did not have to wonder about the whereabouts of their queen. The Buganda Katikkiro Joseph Ssemogerere on Thursday said the Nabagereka Sylvia Nagginda was on a business trip in the United States and would soon return.
Concern over the Nabagereka was raised because she was absent during her husband Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi's week-long 45th birthday celebrations.
For Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, Thursday was the day to let everyone know that he is not sectarian. Kakuuto MP, Manuel Pinto had alleged that while minister of education, Nsibambi, against the better advice of the then Prime Minister, went ahead and marginalised Catholic founded primary teachers colleges.
Nsibambi told Parliament that the colleges were rationalised on the basis of viability following the recommendations of a committee whose composition was 50% Catholic. It probably doesn't matter anymore since President Museveni while on the referendum campaign trail decided to retain one of the colleges slated for closure.
While President Museveni was scoring points in his countrywide referendum trail, his opponents in the Multi-Party National Referendum Committee (MRC) were in Kampala squabbling over money.
Webster Lukwiya, a rebel member of the MRC said they had expelled their chairman Nelson Ocheger for squandering campaign funds. Ocheger denied this and branded his critics pseudo-multipartyists. Earlier in the week Police intervened to stop the factions from doing further harm to their cause and themselves. It was a classic example of how not to win.
Talking about winners and losers, the environmentalists, as expected, lost the contest to save the green space near the Golf Course. A parliamentary committee cleared the construction of a hotel on the plot 68/68 Yusuf Lule Road. Big money won the day.
The environmentalists could only console themselves with the news that The World Bank had approved sh32b for the construction of the Nakivubo Channel.
Just as well. Given the rate at which wetlands draining Kampala are being blocked the approval couldn't have come at a better time.
In the energy sector, the good news was that electricity load shedding will be eased next month after the commissioning of the first 40-mega watts unit of the Owen Falls Extension Project.

"Kanungu: Clergy Moves to Restore Image"

by A. Mutumba-Lule ("The East African" (Nairobi), April 30, 2000)

Kampala - In the wake of embarrassments occasioned by the Kanungu tragedy, more than 70 pastors, leaders and representatives of 37 different churches and organisations met in Kampala last week to revisit the question of sound biblical teaching.
The meeting noted that Kanungu had forced the public to review their position on the church, its teachings and practices.
A source in the meeting said the church leaders noted the increased suspicion and hostility to the non-traditional churches, including prohibiting meetings.
The Catholic Church has threatened to sue Central Broadcasting Service, an FM radio station alleging that it ridiculed Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala by referring to him as Joseph Kibwetere, the leader of the infamous Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, whose 1,000 followers died in ritual conflagration.
There has been increasing ridicule of the Church by the public, linking it to murderers and referring to the clergy as Joseph Kibwetere.
"Some clergy reported that their work and ministry had become more difficult. The clerical collar is no longer a symbol of dignity, integrity and godliness," said Philip Wandawa, director of the Kampala Evangelical School of Theology (KEST). KEST, along with the Institute of Christian Impact, International Fellowship of Evangelical Students and the Evangelical Fellowship of Uganda organised the one day workshop.
Mr. Wandawa said the fact that the Kanungu cult leaders wore collars has cast clerical work in bad light.
The meeting evaluated the church teachings and condition and traced its weaknesses. "The meeting decided to carry out research on the impact of the Kanungu tragedy on the Church and share the findings with the leadership forum," said the source.
It would also formulate a public relations strategy to educate and inform the media, the public and the government on the teachings and position on relevant issues. The meeting also called for fresh recommitment to sound biblical teachings and discipleship in all the churches and organisations.
The one-day meeting was attended by representatives of the Pentecostal Churches, the Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Scripture Union, the Bible Society of Uganda, the Baptist Union of Uganda, the Presbyterian Church, Makerere University and Uganda Christian University, among others.
The Kanungu calamity has had a negative impact on Christianity in Uganda, with some clerics pointing accusing fingers at others and labelling them "cultists."
"It was noted that the negative publicity on churches has led to a situation where churches are pointing fingers at one another," said Wandawa.
At the same time, some legislators have been calling on the government to ban the pentecostal churches or limit their freedom.
Pastor Simeon Kayiwa, chairman of National Fellowship of Born Again Churches in Uganda, said that born-again Christians would oppose any closure of churches because the Constitution provides for freedom of worship.
Over 80 Pentecostal pastors meeting in Kampala recently threatened to sue the government if it interferes in the freedom of worship.

"New Cult City Home Searched "

("New Vision" [Kampala], April 29, 2000)

Kampala - The Police yesterday searched a house in Ndejje, off Kampala-Entebbe Road, which was once occupied by members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God doomsday cult, reports John Banalya.
There was suspicion that followers of the cult, led by Joseph Kibwetere, could have been killed and buried in the house as was the case in other areas they operated in.
Fifty-five bodies were on Thursday exhumed from a house rented by the cult members in Buziga, a Kampala suburb. The Ndejje house belonging to Sgt. Julius Barigye of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), was used by the cult in 1998 for seven months.
Barigye's wife, Scholastica, yesterday said, "Seven policemen inspected the house this morning. They were suspicious that bodies might have been hidden, but so far there are no signs."
She said Kibwetere rented the house through one of their friends only identified as Lwamutwe, a cult member.
"Lwamutwe was our friend. He died with seven of his children in Kanungu.
The only surviving member of the family is a daughter, S. Ndyangambaki living in Namasuba," Mrs. Barigye said.
She said the cult paid sh100,000 per month in rent for the two bedroom house and moved out after demands to improve the house were not met.
Moses Luwere, the Secretary for Defence of the area, said the local council discovered the existence of the cult in the area, after some women from Kajjansi approached them over missing relatives.
According to Luwere, Credonia Mwerinde and Dominic Kataribaabo were at the house when the council accompanied by the women were searching for the missing people.
He said the cult leaders demanded for money before the relatives could be released.
"The majority of the followers slept in the garage. I talked to the two leaders as their followers listened but they were not allowed to speak.
Kibwetere was resting in the house," Luwere said.
He said the cult members left the area a week after they had been forced to release the relatives to the ladies from Kajjansi.
They attempted to recruit followers in the area but gave up when the LC1 chairman, Mr. Eriya Maata, refused to join them.
"I handed over the names of the women who searched for the relatives to the Police after the Kanungu incident," Luwere said.
Meanwhile, the Government Chemist will examine specimens of the 55 people exhumed from a mass grave at a house once rented by Kataribaabo in Buziga, reports Davis Weddi.
The remains of the 55 victims were on Thursday evening buried in the new Kampala City Council (KCC) cemetery at Bukasa near Namboole Stadium.
The Police said the pathologists who took the 55 samples had handed them over to the Government Chemist who will determine the cause of the death.
The pathologists are Dr. Barungi of the Police, Dr. Kalyemini of Mulago Hospital and Dr. Twebaze of KCC.
By yesterday, a Police officer was guarding the former residence of Fr.
Hundreds of residents yesterday thronged Buziga to see the house, but were barred by the Police who locked the gate.
A neighbour said only people with special permission were allowed in.

"Pathologists Examine Bodies Exhumed In Kampala"

(Panafrican News Agency, April 29, 2000)

KAMPALA, Uganda (PANA) - Pathologists have been examining the bodies of 55 people murdered in Kampala by the "Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God" cult to determine the causes of death.
The bodies were exhumed Thursday from a mass grave in a garage at a house formerly rented by the cult leader, Fr. Dominic Kataribabo, in Mawanga village, Makindye Division a Kampala city suburb.
Fr. Kataribabo had rented the house until two days before the Kanungu inferno that killed more than 500 cult followers in western Uganda.
Bodies of 22 women, 15 men, eight boys and 10 girls, the youngest of whom was eight months were exhumed. The house has two bedrooms and a garage.
Three pathologists and 20 Kampala City Council workers from the cemetery department dug up the graves to unearth the bodies.
Doomsday cult leaders -- Joseph Kibwetere, Credonia Mwerinde, Dominic Kataribabo, Ursula Komuhanbi and John Mary Kasapurali are believed to have masterminded the 17 March Kanungu fire incident in which over 500 people were burnt to death in western Uganda.
Police have since dug out another 500 more bodies buried in secret mass graves at various camps owned by the cult in western Uganda. But the exercise was stopped due to lack of equipment.
On Thursday, security personnel barred people including journalists from reaching the scene where the bodies were being exhumed near Kampala. But they were later allowed to tour the place in the evening after the exercise was over.
Inside the garage, the bodies had been buried in a mass grave, which comprised of three pits. The occupants of the house had started rearing chicken on top of the grave.
"After burying the bodies, they sprinkled coffee husks over it. They also erected a shade for rearing chicken," police spokesman Asman Mugenyi told journalists.
"The bodies are likely to have been in the grave for not less than a month.
There were no signs of strangulation," Mugenyi said.
He said other houses that were occupied by the cult members would be searched. He could not say when the police would resume the exhumation of more bodies in western Uganda.

"55 Bodies Exhumed In Buziga"

by John Banalya and Davis Weddi (New Vision [Kampala], April 28, 2000)

Kampala - Fifty-Five bodies were yesterday exhumed from a Buziga house belonging to the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God doomsday cult.
Bodies of 22 women, 15 men, eight young boys and 10 young girls, the youngest of whom was eight months were exhumed. A putrid smell engulfed the area.
The total number almost tallies with the cult members register for Ggaba area published by The New Vision last month. It had 54 names (refer to the list).
Masked Police cordoned off the place in Muwanga zone just a few Kilometers from Munyonyo Resort Beach for fours hours. The house has two bedrooms and a garage. The bodies were found buried in the garage spilling outside it.
Three pathologists and 20 well-equipped Kampala City Council (KCC) workers from the cemetery department dug up the graves as hundreds of anxious residents and journalists waited.
They wore nose masks, yellow waterproof jackets, aprons, black gum-boots and black plastic gloves. They used blankets, stretchers, hoes, basins, spades and blades.
A fire Brigade truck was on standby, with senior Police officers supervising the exercise while UPDF soldiers manned the checkpoints.
A KCC tractor was later brought into the courtyard and the bodies were loaded and taken to an undisclosed location. The bodies were wrapped in black polythene bags.
Inside the garage, the bodies had been buried in a mass grave which comprised of three pits. The occupants had started rearing chicken on top of the grave.
"After burying the bodies they sprinkled coffee husks over it. They also erected a shade for rearing chicken," Asuman Mugenyi, the Police spokesman said.
But Mugenyi added, "We have not got all that we need to accomplish the investigations." He said other houses in the city reported to have been occupied by the cult members were to be searched. The bodies are likely to have been in the grave for not less than a month. There were no signs of strangulation," Mugenyi said. He said the pathologists would examine samples to determine the cause of death. Hundreds of residents thronged the place and climbed on the perimeter walls of the house, to have a look.
"The house should be demolished. Kibwetere should be stoned to death if he is still alive," some residents shouted in anger.
Police turned away all neighbours during the exhumation, but some watched from a nearby storeyed building.
Some neighbours told The New Vision they used to see some of the occupants of the building carrying murram in wheelbarrows but could not guess its origin.
The house had been rented by father Dominic Kataribaabo until two days before the Kanungu inferno in which over 500 cult members perished in a fire. The area secretary for environment, Sarah Kinene said, Kibwetere last visited her in February and looked cool and calm.
"He looked religious and we could not suspect that he could kill people," she said adding that people declined to join the cult because they demanded for sh250,000.

"Uganda Cops Check Cult Leader House"

by Andrew England (Associated Press, April 28, 2000)

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) - Janet Kyomukama left the Ugandan doomsday cult after being asked to write down her sins, pay a small fine for each line and hand over $173. Her departure didn't stop the cult from telling her what to do.
Sitting in a tiny, roadside cafe Friday, Kyomukama recalled how one of the cult leaders now sought by police told her to take her four young children to Kanungu, where 530 people were later burned alive in a mysterious fire March 17.
``She said the world was going to end and what was happening in Mozambique was an example,'' said Kyomukama, smiling one moment, squirming uncomfortably the next. The cult leader, Credonia Mwerinde, was referring to the flooding in the southeast African country.
``She said if I did not go to Kanungu, I would see what would happen to anyone left behind,'' Kyomukama told The Associated Press.
Two months after that exchange, Kyomukama's experience is just another bit of evidence in the police investigation of 979 deaths connected to the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments.
Police, again complaining about a lack of funds, poked Friday around a house in the Kampala suburb of Ndejje that had been rented by another cult leader, excommunicated Roman Catholic priest Dominic Kataribabo.
The inspection came a day after 55 bodies were unearthed from a house Kataribabo rented 4 1/2 miles away in Ggaba, another suburb. A month ago, 155 bodies were unearthed at the excommunicated priest's house in a village near Kanungu in southwestern Uganda.
Kyomukama, who used to go to the Ggaba house for prayers, said she joined the cult in 1998 but left after being asked to write down her sins and hand over money. She told the AP that other members implored her in February to rejoin. When she refused, they told her to go see Mwerinde at the Ggaba house.
Like the people living near the other cult houses, neighbors in Ggaba either cannot or will not explain how 55 people could have been killed, then buried in the garage in the small compound without attracting attention.
But in Ndejje, site of the house police checked Friday, the cult didn't enjoy such a peaceful existence.
Nine months after moving into a new, three-bedroom house in 1998, cult members incurred the wrath of residents when they demanded $100 before handing over a woman and boy who disappeared after joining the group.
Local security officer Moses Lwere said when the cult members ``dodged'' his requests to hand the pair over, he assembled other local armed guards and confronted the cult members.
``We told them if they did not bring the woman and the boy, they would have to face it rough,'' Lwere said.
They got the pair back, and the cult members moved on, but police took no action.
Police have inspected the Ndejje house twice since March.
On Friday, officers asked the wife of the house's owner and neighbors about the way the cult members behaved, dressed and prayed, said Mary Kwetegyka, a teacher who lives a few doors away.
Kwetegyka said no one believed any bodies were buried at the house until they learned of the grisly Ggaba discovery. Now, she is not so sure.
``You never know what was taking place,'' she said. ``If they had not been religious, we would have been suspicious a long time ago.''

Index Page: Ten Commandments of God: Tragedy in Uganda

CESNUR reproduces or quotes documents from the media and different sources on a number of religious issues. Unless otherwise indicated, the opinions expressed are those of the document's author(s), not of CESNUR or its directors.

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Revised last: 3-05-2000