Bugombya village is better known as Mukitemo, a name meaning murder zone, because of the unexplained deaths that have occurred there. Even more intriguing is the fact that the villagers are pointing fingers at one person, writes Owen Wagabaza.
Life was good for Alice Nabirye, a 30-year-old vibrant lady. “God had answered most of her prayers. She was happily married with four children, living in the city and enjoying every passing day,” says Ruth Mukoda, Nabirye’s mother.
Unfortunately, in 1998, her husband Hannington Kaluuya, who was working with BAT Uganda, lost his job during the company’s retrenchment process.
Having built a family house on his inherited land in Bugombya village in Kamuli district, Kaluuya decided to take his family back to the village to start a new life.
However, Kaluuya passed on just a year after resettling in Bugombya, leaving Nabirye with a number of responsibilities, among them, raising their four children.
Residents say after Nabirye lost her husband, her brotherin- law, Moses Kirigoola, ordered her to vacate the family land and find somewhere else to stay.
Nabirye (second left) with her children. Fourth left is Ivan who was poisoned
Nabirye refused, saying the estate is the only property she inherited from her husband and source of livelihood for her family.
“But Kirigoola could not understand any of that,” says Moses Balubwoine, the area LC1 secretary.
Nabirye’s son poisoned
In 2009, Nabirye’s first born child and the only boy in a family of four, Ivan Kaluuya, then aged 14, died mysteriously after a very short illness.
“He started the day well and lively but died in the evening. He started by complaining of a stomach ache, became weak and started vomiting heavily. Amid all this, Ivan was crying out loud that it all started after eating a chapatti. He died on the way to hospital and the post mortem confirmed that he had died of poisoning,” says Mukoda.
Still, she decided to stay in the village.
“She started receiving threats from people telling her: ‘Now that you have refused to leave this place, be ready to meet your creator soon’,” says Emma Kayiwulo, the vice-chairman of Bwigale zone.
On the night of June 14, 2010 one Musinguzi, Kirigola’s shamba boy, attacked Nabirye but she escaped. The next day, Nabirye reported the matter to Busota Police post and Musinguzi was arrested.
Two nights later, in the wee hours of June 16, 2010, Nabirye was murdered in cold blood, her face disfigured and private parts cut off.
When two of Nabirye’s neighbours heard her cry out loud for help, they went to Police and reported the matter. The next morning, the Police deployed at the crime scene. Police used sniffer dogs to track down the culprits.
Mukoda narrates her daughter’s ordeal to Sunday Vision
“After sniffing at Nabirye’s body the Police dog went to Kirigoola’s house. They then went to Hannington Mpala’s home [Kirigoola’s brother in law] where they discovered a machete smeared with human blood and a newly dug hole containing blood and chicken feathers. Another machete was discovered at a nearby school playground,” says Kayiwulo, the LC1 vice-chairman of the area.
Mpala was arrested together with his wife, plus Musinguzi who had been arrested earlier at Busota Police post for the attempted murder on Nabirye.
The three were taken to Kamuli Police station but were released after two weeks. The main suspect, Kirigoola, a roads contractor who also has a home in Jinja, was arrested seven months later on January 2011. But after a few days in the cells, he was released.
When Sunday Vision visited the Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP) offices in Kamuli, it was discovered that Mpala’s file was registered at the DPP’s office on the July 7, 2010 under the offence of murder but the file was sent back to Kamuli Police Station on the same day for further investigation.
Kirigoola’s file could not be traced.
Another widow’s woes
In 2007, Kirigoola’s brother, Rev. Nathan Lubaale, died under mysterious circumstances. Lubaale’s wife, Margaret accuses Kirigoola of forcing her to vacate the family land after her husband died.
“I tried to resist, but after endless threats I opted to forego my rightfully inherited estate,” Margaret said in a phone interview.
Lubaale’s once colourful home has since been deserted and looks ghostly. Jackson Kisuuse and Christopher Asipolo, the two men who reported Nabirye’s murder to the Police, have also fled their homes after several murder attempts and endless threats on their lives.
Jackson Kisuse claims to have deserted his house due to constant threats from Kirigoola
Last year, Kirigoola got guards for his home. One of them was injured by a mob after he was allegedly found stealing food from other people’s gardens.
Subsequently, 13 residents of the village were arrested. “We had to pay sh50,000 each for medical treatment before we could be released by Police,” Idd Kalulu says.
A few months later, residents say Kirigoola brought two men to work at his home. After a few weeks, one of the men went to the LCs accusing his colleague of attempting to kill him.
“He brings strange men, but does not introduce them to the village authorities. We only learn of their presence in the village after they engage in criminal activities,” Balubwoine says.
Early this year, Kirigoola’s house was torched. As a result total of 30 residents were arrested because of him. To-date, the arsonist has not yet been identified.
In April 2010, Kirigoola’s neighbour, Geoffrey Abise, was gunned down in the evening after coming back from the garden.
His wife, Ruth Nangobi, says she knows Abise’s killers, but for security purposes, she will not name them.
The boda boda man (motorcyclist), Estelli Isabirye, who came out in the open to say he had unknowingly transported the Nabirye’s suspected killers, also died under mysterious circumstances a few months after Nabirye’s death.
Residents say, due to a number of mysterious death in the village, the village has since been renamed ‘Mukitemo’ (murder zone).
“If you ask any boda boda rider from Kamuli town to take you to Mukitemo, they will bring you here,” Kayiwulo says.
Mpala’s house (left) was knocked down by angry residents forcing him to flee. Meanwhile, Nangobi (right) says she knows her husband’s killers, but won’t name them for security purposes
The residents say the Police are not doing enough to protect the citizens. They are calling on the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura to come to their rescue.
When Sunday Vision contacted Musa Nabende, the then District Police Commander of Kamuli district and team leader of Nabirye’s murder case, he referred us to Robert Mulwanyi, the officer in charge of crime prevention in Kamuli.
Mulwanyi says the relevant files were sent to the DPP’S office but the DPP lost interest in the case and dropped the charges against the suspects.
How Nabirye died
According to Nabirye’s niece Barbara, who was with Nabirye that night, someone knocked on their door claiming he was her brother-in-law.
On opening, two strange men appeared and Nabirye closed the door immediately. The men got a boulder and knocked the door open and entered. They beat Nabirye and left her unconscious.
Thinking she was dead, the men pulled Nabirye’s body from the house, threw it outside and left. Immediately after the men had left, Nabirye called Barbara to come to her rescue. Unfortunately, the killers had not gone far.
On hearing Nabirye’s call for help, the men came back to silence her. Using machetes, they cut her face several times and cut off her private parts. “
You could not recognise her. Her face was disfigured,” says Idd Kalulu, a resident.
A section of the villagers point fingers at Kirigoola. But Kirigoola and the Police say there is no evidence.
In a phone interview with Kirigoola, he rubbished all the allegations, arguing that there is a small group of people who are out there to tarnish his name.
Some of the Bugombya residents calling on authorities to apprehend Kirigoola
“I do not know where you are, but if you are in Uganda, you realise that people talk and talk. How could I murder someone and still be free? There is no one above the law. Look at Katuramu, Kato Kajubi, Akbar Godi, Mukono DPC James Aurien, and Mayuge’s Tigawalana Bakari. They all had a lot of money and influence, but could not run away from the law.
“Believe me; all those allegations were investigated by all the relevant organs. They all found out that I had no case to answer. Today’s Police are very professional, even if you are a minister, they will arrest you and you face the law,” Kirigoola argues.
Kirigoola further claims that he has never had a single interest in the disputed family land.
“I have serviced a number of bank loans and even now, I am servicing several. To be precise, one of the loans is a heavy one from Postbank and it has strained me. But I have never ever used the family land in all my loan transactions. I have the capacity to guarantee my bank loans using my personal fortune. There is no reason as to why I would fight for such small property. No way,” Kirigoola says.
Asked whether he chased away Margaret, Kirigoola insists it was not him.
“Firstly, Rev. Lubaale owned nothing there. The land was for the clan, not Lubaale’s. Secondly, it’s the clan which sat and agreed to chase her away. Some of these accusations should be generalized and not pointed to Kirigoola alone.”
Asked why the whole village is against him if he is actually innocent, Kirigoola says it is not true.
“It is a small group of people who are fighting me. Recently, they collaborated with my shamba boy and hacked someone with the aim of tarnishing my name.
“They went on to torch my house and I arrested them. It is their fellow villagers who reported them to me. That would not have been possible if all people were against me.”
Bugombya village: The murder zone of Busoga