It is now two months since 87-year-old Daniel Karuhanga was hacked to death together with five members of his household, but nobody has been taken to court and charged over the incident, despite the Police claiming that it had arrested the actual killers. Sunday Vision team revisits the case.
The attack took place on Friday August 17, 2013 at the home of Daniel Karuhanga and his second wife Joyce Kabashaho in Kacumburo village in Kenshunga subcounty, Kiruhura district.The assailants killed Karuhanga and five of his workers; Bernard Ntwirenabo, Naboth Turyahabwe, Kenneth Timuzigu, Eldard Tumwine and Alex Turyamureeba.
Karuhanga was a prominent farmer in Kiruhura and was also a respected church elder in the area. According to a preliminary report by the Kiruhura district Police commander Norman Musinga, the Police mmediately deployed dogs when the incident was reported. The two sniffer dogs led the Police to some of the suspects’ homes.
“After arresting them, we started the interrogation. Some of the suspects confessed that they had been hired to kill the old man and gave Police the details, financiers and how the whole move was carried out,” Musinga says.
On August 17, the Police arrested Karuhanga’s first wife Jovia Karuhanga, together with her son John Musiime and all the adults in her household, who included two housemaids, a driver and a herdsman. They were detained at Rushere Police Station.
On the same day, the Police arrested her other children who had come to pay her a visit and they were transferred to Mbarara Police Station.
On August 23, the suspects were then transferred to different Police stations across the country and some are being detained at Jinja Road Police Station, Kiira Road Police Station and the Special Investigations Unit in Kireka. The inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura, deployed the Flying Squad boss, Charles Kataratambi, to the area to help with investigations.
According to the Police report read to the mourners at his burial, the assailants had convened a series of meetings in which a detailed plan to kill Karuhanga was hatched. The assailants then moved to the workers house where they slaughtered four workers and then used one as a bait to lure Karuhanga out to his death.
By the time they left the home, five of their victims had been hacked in their bedrooms while the sixth one died in the compound. They had also defiled one of the girls at the homestead, but this has since been swept under the carpet. When the sniffer dogs were deployed the following day, they led the Police to the homes of some of the suspects and the Police recovered blood stained clothes hidden in their rooms.
One of those arrested had a wound that the Police say he sustained when one of the deceased persons put up a fight in trying to save his life. With this it was widely believed that the suspects arrested would be arraigned in court and charged with the murder. But two months later they continue languishing in Police cells across the country, which leaves the deceased’s family wondering whether the preliminary report that was read out to the mourners was a hoax?
According to the relatives, the preliminary report read by the DPC appeared “conclusive and comprehensive enough to sustain preferred charges since the Police claimed they had confessions. But then why has there been no action in charging the suspects before the courts of law?,” a relative asked.
Sources at the Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (CIID) and Special Investigations Unit now tell Sunday Vision that the matter was becoming more complicated.
DID POLICE RUSH?
Sources say the Police could have erred and been too quick in arresting only members of one family yet the deceased had two families. Sunday Vision has learnt that the suspects who were trailed by the sniffer dogs did not implicate any of the family members in the confession. So why hold onto them for two months?
According to sources in CIID, they were contemplating quizzing the deceased’s second wife who now seems a critical person to the investigations since she was an eyewitness and a survivor in the attack.
Why she chose to give contradicting reports to the Police, media and the mourners also remains unclear. In one of the reports she alleged that the killers used the deceased’s driver to disguise that they had been attacked by red ants so that the old man could be lured from the house.
In another interview, she alleged that the door was kicked open by the assailants. The occupants of the house were also being questioned on why they chose not to sound an alarm on the night of the attack.
According to preliminary reports by the Police, the first wife and her children were involved in a property dispute with the deceased. The Police report claimed that the lady was not happy with what her husband wanted to give her as a share of the property, yet they had spent so many years together accumulating it. But then if property was the motive of the attack, why would the killers target the old man, his workers and a visitor and then leave out the potential beneficiaries of the estate — the second wife and her two children alive.
On the day of the attack, the assailants defiled one of the girls they found at the home. But the defiled girl was never presented at the identification parade which was held in Mbarara. Instead, another girl was presented by one of the survivors. Why did this happen? The same girl has since gone missing.
CRIME OF PASSION?
Relatives of the suspects in custody are also requesting the Police to look into the fact that the deceased could have been a victim of love gone sour. His youngest wife had a history of violent breakups before she met the old man. “Her past relationships ended up violently and it is also possible that her former boyfriend could have been involved,” a relative said.
Sunday Vision has learnt that a man only identified as Katsigaire who was previously married to Kabashaho, lost an eye after being attacked under mysterious circumstances. On the day they attacked, the assailants reportedly spared the widow on grounds that they had no problem with her, but demanded copies of land titles and money. The assailants also took the deceased’s vehicle a Toyota Spacio UAR 517H and sh100, 000.
The disappearance of the maid, Bonita Kyoshabire, who was in the house on the day of the attack, has also further complicated the investigations, with reports indicating that she could have known exactly what transpired that night.
Sunday Vision has also learnt that on the eve of the attack, somebody who had sold the deceased the car had borrowed it on grounds that he wanted to take his children to school. One of the deceased’s relatives who survived the attack was seen with the person who had borrowed the car in Mbarara town. Was this a coincidence?
After the attack, the assailants drove away the car. There were conflicting reports with the widow claiming that the assailants took away the car together with the logbook, even though the person who sold the deceased the car said he was the one with the logbook. He claimed to have used the logbook as as security to borrow money from one of the micro finance institutions in Mbarara, but would later change the statement to claim it was still in the bond where he bought the car.
The mystery lingers on but for now, Jovia Karuhanga, the first wife of the deceased who is elderly and sickly, a housemaid who has had to stay in Police detention with her baby together with the others continue languishing in Police cells.
COURTS ORDER SUSPECTS TO BE PRODUCED
Lawyers acting for the suspects who were arrested in connection with the murder of Daniel Karuhanga have secured a writ of Habeas Corpus against the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, Director of Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Division, Commandant of the Special Investigations Unit and the Attorney General requiring them to produce the detained persons in court.
A writ of Habeas Corpus is a legal action that requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court. The principle of habeas corpus ensures that a prisoner can be released from unlawful detention — that is, detention lacking sufficient cause or evidence.
The remedy can be sought by the prisoner or by another person coming to the prisoner’s aid. The court then determines whether the custodian has lawful authority to detain the prisoner. If the custodian is acting beyond his authority, then the prisoner must be released.
The suspects who were arrested in August 17 following the grisly murder of Karuhanga and five of his workers have never been produced in court and were being detained at different Police stations across the country. Anthony Ahimbisibwe, the lawyer representing the suspects told Sunday Vision they had already served the orders to Police.
The order requires the Police and the Attorney General to produce the detained suspects before the High Court Civil Division on different dates. Jovia Karuhanga, who is the deceased’s first wife is supposed to be produced in court on October 23 at 9:00pm.