It is over a year since Pastor Umar Mulinde of Gospel Life Church International at Namasuba was burnt with acid shortly after he had finished preaching to his faithful.
It is however disturbing that more than a year later, the case file at Katwe police vanished without a trace, and investigations into the horrendous act ground to a halt!
On December 12, 2011, assailants waylaid the pastor at his church in Namasuba just as he had parked his car after preaching to his faithful at Kikajjo.
Mulinde says while he was outside his church he heard someone shout in Arabic: ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is great). That was at 8.00pm when, following the swearing, he felt a stinging sensation in his face.
Mulinde told Bukedde newspaper that he felt a heat wave engulf his face. The assailant had just poured acid in his face and fled, leaving him screaming for help.
Mulinde says the next time he regained consciousness he was in hospital. He had been rushed to Kampala International Hospital where he received first aid before he was flown to Israel for specialised treatment.
To date however questions still linger in people’s minds as to what became of the case. How far did police investigations go? Did they arrest the people they said were suspects in the heinous crime?
Mulinde prays for the faithfuls before the acid attack
Assailant swore in Arabic
Speaking to Bukedde newspaper, Mulinde said: I saw a young man who swore in Arabic ‘Allah Akbar’ before he poured acid from a container he was holding. I felt a heat wave engulf my face and a burning sensation right after the acid was poured on me. That is the last time I was conscious. The next time I came round I was in hospital at Namuwongo.
Doctors did everything possible to treat me but because of my critical condition I had to be flown to Israel where I am currently nursing my wounds.
Blinded by acid
“Although I sustained severe acid burns I no longer feel pain because of the specialized treatment; the unfortunate bit is that I was blinded in one eye.
Doctors have had to do skin grafting three times and the latest operation that was done in November should last me one year.”
Mulinde’s doctors also said the pastor was burnt with concentrated acid causing him to go blind in one eye, tearing the skin and also damaging some bones. Doctors have expressed hope that Mulinde will heal properly in two years’ time.
Pastor David Kiganda, the head of Christianity Focus Center in Kisenyi who closely followed this case says:
I wonder how after a year the Police are still stalling on the case! I remember recently Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson Ibin Ssenkumbi said they had information that fellow pastors who were known were behind the acid attack on Mulinde.
So why have they never arrested the pastors? If he was not sure why did he say it? Or if police arrested these pastors why don’t they reveal to the whole world what happened?
Can the deputy police spokesperson, Vincent Ssekate, search for Mulinde’s file for a whole week and fail to find it? I have spoken to Ssekate three times.
The first time he asked me to give him an hour to look for the file; the second time he said they were looking for the file at Katwe police; and the third time he asked for more time to look for the file. And to date he is looking for the file!
The CID boss Katwe police Herbert Wanyoto, however, says the file was forwarded to Makindye Court!
What is shocking, Pastor Kiganda says, is how could the file have been forwarded to court when police had no suspect in custody? Is it that police are buying time for people to forget about the case?
Mulinde had converted from Islam to become a pastor. However the Old Kampala Muslim faction spokesperson, Hajji Nsereko Mutumba, refuted claims that it was a Muslim who poured acid on Mulinde simply because he had converted.
“Mulinde is not the only one to have left the Muslim faith; many have converted but nothing has happened to them. Allah said even if all you worship me you take nothing from me, and even when you disobey me I still lose nothing,” says Nsereko.
“This means the Islamic faith is bigger than Mulinde, so we lose nothing when he leaves.”
Mulinde appears in public
Since the life changing acid attack, Mulinde had never appeared anywhere in public. But on September 23 last year he was one of the pastors that congregated at the International Nations Convocation that was held in Israel.
Pastors from Uganda, who attended led by Dr. John Mulinde of Trumpet Center Mission & Prayer Mountain in Sseguku, were indeed shocked to see him alive and healthy considering that the acid had disfigured him.
At the convocation Mulinde preached and said it was only by the grace of God that he was still alive. He revealed that there had been ten separate attempts on his life in a period of ten years.
“There could be a ploy to pour acid on other pastors who converted from Islam because I was not the first.
Pastors Jamada Kikomeko of Nateete, Zachariah of Jinja and Nathan Ibrahim of Mbarara have also been attacked,” he said at the convocation.
Special prayers were said for Mulinde by other pastors including Lambert from South Africa, Tom Hess from the US and Dr Umar.
Who is Pastor Mulinde
Mulinde is a son to Hajji Idi Wasswa and Hajjati Joelia Namugga, who hail from Kikandwa-Kassanda in Mubende district. His parents are such staunch Muslims that his father built a mosque in his compound. Mulinde attended Islamic schools and is fluent in Arabic, English and Swahili.
After converting from Islam, he got baptised by the late Pastor Deo Balyabyekkubo of Prayer Palace at Kibuye. He is very prominent in preaching the word of God and before the acid attack, he had traversed nearly every part of the country preaching. He is also a Senior Pastor.
He is renowned for organising pilgrimages every year to holy places in Israel. He is married to Evelyn and together they have six children.
Faithfuls prepare for Mulinde's return
They say what does not break you only makes you stronger! Pastor Mulinde's unfortunate acid attack, if it was indeed orchestrated by jealous colleagues, only made him and his establishment stronger.
According to Pastor Harunah Nsereko who runs Mulinde's church, the church has only become stronger and has attracted more followers. He says they have seen their following grow three-fold since the heinous attack on the man of God.
Nsereko affirms that Pastor Kiganda is keeping tabs on the progress of the case whose investigations seem to have stalled at police.
“I ensure everything runs smoothly because after the attack on Mulinde everything just collapsed. I have done everything possible with the help of Pastor Yazid Muwanguzi," Nsereko said.
He says according to reports coming from the Israel hospital, Pastor Mlinde will soon be out and preparations are in high gear for his grand return. Amen!