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First NRA commander exhumed

By Vision Reporter

Added 1st February 2005 03:00 AM

FAMILY and friends wept as a cracked skull, broken dentures and decomposing bones in green clothing were scooped from a grave in a Kampala cemetery yesterday.

By Alfred Wasike

FAMILY and friends wept as a cracked skull, broken dentures and decomposing bones in green clothing were scooped from a grave in a Kampala cemetery yesterday. The remains belonged to Lt. Col. Samuel Emmanuel Magara, the National Resistance Army (NRA) commander, gunned down by Obote forces in 1982.

Magara, 46, was a lawyer and was survived four children.

Uganda’s High Commissioner to Tanzania Katenta-Apuli told a moving account of how Obote’s soldiers killed Magara as he tried to escape from his house at Mengo on August 23, 1982. Apuuli said his niece tipped the soldiers.

Flanked by the UPDF deputy Chief of Staff, Brigadier Benon Biraro, Apuuli said, “My house on Balintuma Road and my shop at Plot 5 Market Street in Kampala were transit points for the NRA. I hosted people like Eriya Kategaya, Hannington Mugaba, Mucunguzi, Sam Katabarwa’s younger brother and others. I was a coordinator. We began using that house in March 1981.”

Biraro said Magara and his brother Martin Mwesiga will be reburied at Rutooma, Kajara, on Saturday.

Mwesiga was also killed by Obote’s forces in Mbale. President Yoweri Museveni will officiate at the reburial ceremony. Their elder brother, Dr. Frank Mwine, a former UCB chief, was present yesterday.

Apuuli said Magara arrived at his house at 9:00am on Sunday August 22. He was with two comrades in a white Isuzu Gemini.

He said he drove his car outside the garage to let theirs in. “We had an enemy in the house,” he said.

He said his brother’s daughter, Mary, had a boyfriend, a policeman at Nakulabye, whom she tipped about Magara’s presence. He said the policeman then informed soldiers in Lubiri who surrounded the house.

Apuuli said Magara had dental problems and that he had gone to town to arrange for a doctor but on return he found the house had been attacked and ransacked and Magara shot dead as he tried to flee.

“My children told me that Magara got his brief case, hid his UZI gun in my bedroom ceiling, ran out of the house, jumped over the chain link fence and was gunned down,” Apuuli said.

He said Paulo Muwanga, the then Vice-President, ordered his arrest but he fled to the bush to join other NRA combatants.

Magara’s sister, Maria Mwanje, and a cousin, Rose Tumusiime, clandestinely buried Magara in the KCC cemetery on Lugogo By-Pass on September 3, 1982. Mwanje said they learnt of Magara’s death from a city lawyer, the late Jonathan Kateera, of Hunter and Greig, Kampala.

“We went to search in Mulago mortuary. There were so many bodies. They were rotten. Sam was already decomposing. His body was in green underpants. There were gunshot wounds on the head and legs,” she said.

She said former Kampala Town Clerk Gordon Mwesigye gave them men to dig the grave. The ministry of works gave a coffin. “We buried him on September 3, 1982,” she said.

First NRA commander exhumed

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