By Sunday Vision Team
Crime, Suspense, Intrigue (CSI)
On July 30, 2012, Moses Kajuugu’s body was discovered with deep cuts, lying next to his motorcycle. Investigations into the murder uncovered a conspiracy theory that involved a UPDF major and the deceased’s worker.
There was also an alleged eyewitness, but none of these has helped resolve the murder
At just 35, Moses Kajuugu, was among the most prominent farmers and local businessmen in Kalungu district. He was popular because of the booming cattle business. As he returned home on July 30, 2012, assailants waylaid him and hacked him to death.
The following day, his body was found dumped on the way to his home at Bwanyi-Kiti village. Nine months after his brutal murder, the Police has failed to track down his killers and his family members feel that the matter is not being handled with the due attention it deserves.
Events before his death
According to statements recorded by the Police from relatives and friends, a day before he was found dead, Kajuugu received a call from his neighbour, Major Noel Babumba of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, requesting him to take two of his workers, Joel Nuwahereza and Rutabagisha to Lukaya town on his bike. The duo were to pick cows to take to Babumba’s farm.
The three arrived in Lukaya town at 2:00pm and proceeded to a barber shop. Nuwahereza and Rutabagisha left the deceased having his hair shaven and went on to wait for the cows that were being transported from Kiruhura. The truck carrying the cows arrived and the two boarded and left for Babumba’s farm located at Bwanyi village. Their statement was supported by Benjamin Tashobya who sold the cows to the soldier.
The deceased left Lukaya town and headed to his home, where he reached at about 4:00pm. He then left his motorcycle at the home of his second wife, Aisha Namutebi. Using a different motorcycle, Kajuugu with a friend, Richard Mutebi, rode off to go see a traditional herbalist, from whom they were to get some medicine for a sick child. They returned to the deceased’s home, where rituals were performed on the child.
At around 9:00pm, Kajuugu got on his own motorcycle. He told Namutebi and Mutebi that he was going to attend a night vigil in the neighbourhood.
He stopped at a bar at Kakwanzi trading centre, owned by Alice Namusoke at around 9:30pm. There, he met the area LC1 chairperson, Musa Lubega, together with other patrons. He invited two other friends, James Kamya and Robert Lubega to join him. As it approached midnight, Kajuugu told his friends he was going back home for warm clothing for the vigil.
His friends at the bar said he kept receiving calls and telling the caller that they would meet at the vigil. However, Kajuugu would never make it.
The following morning, residents discovered his body with deep cuts, lying next to his bike.
Whatever transpired between the time Kajuugu left the bar and the time his body was found, continues to baffle the Police.
Was he lured to his death? Who kept calling him on the phone?
A worker, Justus Nabasa, who had just been recruited by Kajuugu, went missing the night his boss was murdered.
Boaz Turinawe, another worker of the deceased, who shared a hut with Nabasa, says they both went to sleep at about 11:00pm on the night the deceased was murdered. But when he woke up, Nabasa was gone and the door locked from outside.
A quick look through the room showed that Nabasa had disappeared with all his belongings in two bags — one black, the other army green.
Abas Mayambala, a driver who plies the Masaka-Lukaya route says on June 31, he picked two men who were on their way to Masaka, but his taxi broke down and he handed them over to another taxi driver, George Kyeyune.
As he repaired his vehicle, he saw an abandoned phone on the back seat, where the two men had sat. He picked it up and scrolled through the phonebook and contacted several people whose numbers were saved in the phone. It was then that he learnt that the phone belonged to the deceased. He surrendered the phone to the Police.
Kyeyune says he dropped the two male passengers in Masaka town and one of them, in his mid-20s, who carried two bags, asked for vehicles going to Mbarara. Kyeyune advised them to get the vehicles from Kyabakuza.
The Police also recorded a statement from Moses Gwala, saying on July 26, three days before the murder, he went hunting and met Maj. Babumba talking to Nabasa in hushed tones. According to Gwala, the soldier was feared and not easily approachable.
“So, I kept asking myself what the two were discussing. After about four days, I heard that Kajuugu had been murdered,” Gwala says.
Another witness says sometime in July 2012, he saw Nabasa with the major in his car at Kiti trading centre.
What were the two discussing?
Joseph Kabigumira, a neighbour to the deceased, recorded a statement with the Police, claiming that he saw three men kill somebody and dump the body by the roadside. He disclosed the identity of the men to the Police.
“The next morning I woke up and went to Kiti trading centre, where I found a crowd of people gathered and discussing Kajuugu’s murder. That is when I realised that it was the incident I had witnessed that night.”
He says Kajuugu’s body was recovered from the same spot where he saw the men.
“I did not disclose what I saw because I feared that one of the three men would harm me as well. But I decided to divulge the information after a friend I confided in told me to,” he told the Police.
Wrangle over land
Kajuugu’s father, the late Budesia Rwahigi, had acquired a large plot of land at Bwanyi-Kiti village in the early 1980s and when he died, he passed it to his children. The land was divided and a piece of it sold to Babumba. Family members who spoke to Sunday Vision say Kajuugu’s portion was next to Babumba’s.
The relatives asked the Police to arrest the major on grounds that he could have planned Kajuugu’s death, on the basis of the land and grazing issues they had. They also claim that Nabasa could have been planted by Babumba to get work on Kajuugu’s farm and then execute the mission.
Records indicate that the major and the deceased had long standing wrangles over grazing area and that a series of complaints had been registered at the Kalungu Police post. In one of the cases registered in court as CRB1185/2011 Uganda Versus Moses Kajuugu, a herdsboy who worked for Babumba, accused Kajuugu of assault.
Other cases included Kalungu CRB 688/2012, which involved trespass and another Kalungu CRB 686/2012, which involved theft of the major’s goats.
Armed with this information, the deputy director of the Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (CIID), Godfrey Musana, wrote to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence on November 17, 2012, requesting the army to summon the soldier for interrogation.
Babumba was summoned on August 31, 2012 and interrogated over the murder case. He was released on bond and the file was then submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on September 19, for perusal and advice.
The DPP found that there was no case reported to the Police about Kajuugu and Babumba accusing each other directly.
A report from the DPP, signed by Alice Komuhangi Khaukha, addressed to the director of CIID, dated February 5, 2013, also noted that there was no evidence to show that Babumba had planted the worker on the deceased’s farm as claimed by Kajuugu’s relatives.
“What is on record by Boaz Turinawe, is that when the deceased brought Nabasa home, he said he had got him from Lukaya,” notes the DPP report.
“The same information of how the deceased met Nabasa was confirmed by the nephew and friend to the deceased in their statements to the Police.
“How coincidental would it be that the suspect (major) desiring to kill the deceased, strategically placed Nabasa at a place in Lukaya where it is the deceased and not any other person who found him stranded and offered him a job,” notes the report.
“In light of the above, I find that much as there could have been disputes between the suspect and the deceased, they seem to have long stopped and the two seemed to have maintained a relationship,” notes the DPP.
The DPP notes that if the deceased had been threatened by the major and if, indeed, he felt threatened, he would not have positively responded to his call for assistance to transport his herdsman to Lukaya town to pick his cows.
The DPP also found out that the family’s claims that Kajuugu was lured to Lukaya by the major could not stand.
The DPP noted that Kabigumira’s statement was suspicious.
“It is unbelievable that someone who claims to have witnessed a murder, which caused much grief and panic in the whole village, would keep quiet without revealing anything to the authorities or any other person only to come up after six months. The reasons he gives for keeping silent are not logical,” writes the official from the DPP.
However, the puzzle gets more complicated with the disappearance of another herdsman who used to work on Babumba’s farm.
A police officer at the station told Sunday Vision that they have failed to track Nabasa.
UPDF’s Maj. Noel Babumba requests Kajuugu to transport his workers to Lukaya town to pick his cows
At Lukaya, Babumba’s workers separate with Kajuugu, leaving him at a barber’s shop
Kajuugu leaves Lukaya and arrives home at about 4:00pm, where he leaves his motorcycle
Kajuugu, with a friend, jumps on another motorcycle to go see a herbalist and then return home
At about 9:00pm, Kajuugu leaves home to attend a vigil
At 9:30pm Kajuugu meets with the LC1 chairperson and others at a bar, but keeps receiving phone calls. He promises to meet the caller at the vigil
Kajuugu leaves the bar to go home for warm clothing before the vigil and is discovered dead in the morning