CS I - Crime, Suspense, Intrigue
On January 15, 2011, Nile Breweries senior engineer Charles Eturuket, was shot dead at his home in Bukaya village in Buikwe district, Charles Etukuri writes
On January 15, 2011, Nile Breweries senior engineer Charles Eturuket, was shot dead at his home in Bukaya village, Buikwe district.
Two days after his death, thugs attempted to kill his colleague Augustine Oyet, who was a procurement officer at the breweries, but instead shot dead his mother Mary Angeyo.
Two people, Abdul Ssengendo and Ronald Magero, were arrested and charged with the gruesome murder of Eturuket and Oyet’s mother. Only this week, Ali Matsunga, who was in charge of security at Nile Breweries, was charged with the murder of Eturuket.
Magero pleaded guilty to the two murders and turned into a witness against Ssengendo before the Military Court Martial. The General Court Martial sentenced Magero to a record 310 years.
He was sentenced to 60 years in prison for killing Eturuket, 80 years for two counts of aggravated robbery, 60 years for murdering Angeyo by shooting at Triangle zone in Njeru Town Council, Buikwe district and more 40 years for aggravated robbery he admitted having committed on the same day.
Ssengendo, on the other hand, denied the charges and the Court Martial has started hearing against him. In a chilling testimony in court last week, Ssengendo claimed they were paid by some officials from the company where the deceased worked.
His testimony was corroborated by Oyet who testified that he saw a top manager of a security firm hired to protect the company facilities meeting the killers that night.
According to 32-year-old Palma Akello, a wife to the deceased and mother of four who witnessed the killing of her husband, Ssengendo shot Eturuket as he emerged out of the house to take a bath at around 10:00pm.
She said her husband fell and died at the doorway after he was shot in the head using a gun Ssengendo had concealed in a jacket he was wearing.
Terrified, she crawled to the bedroom for safety, but Ssengendo followed her. She says Ssengendo demanded to be given all the money in the house. She gave him sh3m, but he continued to demand for more money as Magero parked household items, including two television sets, decoders and mobile phones.
They then demanded the deceased’s car keys from Kevin Aceng, her niece and used her husband’s car that was parked outside the house to ferry their properties. The car was later found abandoned in Kitigoma.
Some of the stolen properties, including a Sony and LG television sets, were recovered at the home of Ssengendo when he was arrested.
Eturuket feared for his job
His family members and other people close to him at his Jinja and Katakwi home say six months before the incident, Eturuket was a disturbed man.
“He said some people were trailing him,” says the deceased’s neighbour and colleague at work who preferred anonymity.
According to other witnesses, who the Sunday Vision talked to, Eturuket was the site services engineer. Eturuket and Onen were at the centre of contracts that stretched into billions of shillings.
Eturuket handled the companies’ project that involved the building of volume capacity from 28 to 33 huge tanks, known as cellars. Oyet on the other hand handled the procurement of these equipment.
Once Eturuket took up the new duty, he became a hunted man. He found himself being given compulsory leave from time to time following a series of disagreements with two of his bosses.
Tired of pressure from his bosses and workmates, Eturuket wrote a resignation letter on December 20, 2010, indicating that his resignation was to be effective January 15, 2011, the day he was killed.
Akello noted that her husband was killed on the day he was supposed to hand over office. The family showed Sunday Vision a letter written by the Nile Breweries human resources manager. Another letter from the human resource manager also showed that Eturuket had, at some point expressed fears regarding his job
Akello said her husband told her that he was being forced to do things that would land him in trouble. “He was an honest man who would rather leave a job than be pushed to do something that would cause him problems,” Akello added.
Last week Oyet resurfaced and mentioned one Ali Matsunga of G4S Security Company, as the person who was seen meeting Eturuket’s killers while they were still driving the deceased’s car shortly after he was murdered.
A source says Matsunga offered to procure the hit men and a figure of sh10m was agreed upon.
A deposit was paid before the job was done and on the day the deceased was killed, Magero and Ssengendo were seen meeting Matsunga. They were supposed to be paid the balance, but they were not paid.
Sunday Vision met the duo in Luzira Upper Prison and they said they had never met the actual person who was meant to pay them (big boss). “We were dealing with Matsunga who was our contact person in this job,” Magero revealed. So who was this Nile Breweries manager who funded the operation?
On the day they allegedly met Matsunga, he pointed to them a company official who was being driven in a Pajero and told them he was behind the plot and that he asked them to travel to Katakwi for the burial and the remaining balance would be given to them.
All the family wants is justice. “It would be pointless to arrest the small men and leave the big fish walking freely,” says a relative.
Immediately after the incident, the Police swung into action, arresting Abdul Ssengendo and Ronald Magero. The duo was arrested following a tip-off from the residents.
`When the photographs of Ssengendo and Magero were published in Bukedde newspaper after they had been arrested, the widow and residents recognised them. They had even attended the requiem mass and funeral service of Eturuket in Katakwi district.
The widow recalled their faces because when the incident happened, the lights were on. Last week, Ali Matsunga, who was heading security at Nile Breweries, was charged with the murder. He allegedly met the deceased’s killers while they were still driving the deceased’s car.
The unsolved mystery
Sources in the company told Sunday Vision that Eturuket’s killers are still roaming freely and they attribute Etureket’s death to a disagreement he had with one of the top officials in the company over the procurement of construction materials, choice of the company and the commission that was to be paid to them after the delivery of the equipment.
Sources point out that Eturuket had, on several occasions been approached by the senior manager to inflate the costs of the machines and favour a certain supplier, but because of his integrity he refused.
It was then that the manager started plotting for his death.
As a site supervisor Eturuket had also blocked several attempts by the officials to smuggle out of the company construction materials and several drivers and security officials he had arrested trying to smuggle had implicated a top manager.
Sources say several meetings took place, both within and outside the company, in which the manager enlisted the help of one of the officials of a private security firm that the company had hired to guard its premises.
A detective who was among those that handled the file, but was immediately transferred, told Sunday Vision that when they interrogated the suspects immediately after they had been arrested, they confessed, implicating top officials.
A number of the Police officers who initially handled the case were transferred to distant stations and suddenly the investigations took a fresh twist and it was assigned to somebody else.
Oyet had also informed the Police about the people he suspects had hired Eturuket’s killers, but they have never been arrested.
“After spending a lot of money pursuing justice in vain, I gave up and ran for my life because I continued receiving threatening messages on my phone,” Oyet says.
Did those who killed him also try to influence the course of investigations? Only time will tell.
Adapted from Sunday Vision