In the recent past, 12 women have reportedly been drugged, raped, robbed and others murdered. Joshua Kato went to different locations in Kampala which have registered a high number of these cases.
Francisco Magandazi, alias John Kaggwa or Dan Kusasira, is fairly handsome. And to show more of his humanity, the suspected serial rapist even burst into tears during a Police press briefing, after three women accused him of intoxicating, raping and robbing them recently.
According to his workmates at the Wandegeya taxi stage, Magandazi is a calm person. But Kampala Extra Police spokesman Simeo Nsubuga says Magandazi has been accused of rape and robbery by at least 12 women in Kampala.
In 2004, another suspect, Walusimbi, was arrested over the same crimes. Walusimbi, who is said to have used the same tactics as Magandazi, is on trial in the High Court.
Magandaziâ€™s neighbours at Mbalwa Zone near Namugongo say he is mostly quiet. â€œI only knew him as a special hire driver,â€ says one of them.
Magandazi dresses casually and is always smart. According to his colleagues, sometimes he puts on dark goggles, perhaps to hide his identity. Even when he works at night, he behaves normally.
In the same week Magandazi was arrested, Kevin Talemwa, an administrator at the Uganda Christian University in Mukono and a student, also from the same university, were arrested for allegedly raping two girls. Police say this may be another case of serial rape, though conclusions are yet to be reached.
Rapists on the loose
There are many women in Kampala who ask for lifts and take free drinks from strangers. So Magandazi had plenty of them to choose from.
Last month, two residents of Kalerwe; Agnes Kyobutungi and Judith Namule, were found dumped naked near Bat Valley in Kampala. They claim two men befriended them and took them for drinks to a bar in Wandegeya. â€œThe men asked for sex after buying the drinks, but we refused. So they decided we should drive to the city to have more drinks,â€ the women say.
When they reached near Hotel Equatoria, the men offered them more drinks, which they had carried in the car. Apparently, the beer had been laced with chloroform.
One of the women says she recalls being pulled out of the car and taken to a corridor between two buildings.
Both women do not remember what happened next. However, they woke up the next day at around 7:00am, only to notice they were naked and near Bat Valley! They also complained of pain in their private parts.
On August 10, the body of Christine Katushabe, a 24-year-old housewife from Wakaliga, Natete, was dumped in an incomplete house in Busega.
Police say she could have been a victim of rape. But her body was discovered two days after Magandazi was arrested, so this points to other serial killers on the loose. Most victims of rape in Kampala hail from Ntinda, Wandegeya, Nakulabye and Kabalagala. On August 14 at 9:00pm, two women were seated in the corner of a bar in Ntinda, whispering. One was drinking beer and the other soda. Fifteen minutes later, two men entered the bar and sat two tables away from them.
They seemed to pick interest in the women, but it was obvious they did not know them. One of the men was tall, handsome and dressed in a black T-shirt and blue jeans. The other was medium-height and was dressed in a stripped blue shirt, jeans and sneakers.
A few minutes later, the men approached the women and struck a conversation with them. They ordered drinks for the women. At exactly 10:00pm, they all walked out of the bar, entered a Toyota Corolla AE100 and drove off. â€œNaabo babamaze (those will become their victims),â€ a waiter said. After more inquiries, I learnt that the men allegedly drug their victims and rape them.
According to the waiter, one of the men resides in Najjera, near Ntinda, and the other in Kiwatule. The kanyamas (bouncers) at the bar say the men are always in and out of Police over different crimes.
A special hire driver in Wandegeya says there are many people with whom Magandazi worked. He identifies one of them as Paul, whom he says has many scars. He says when Magandazi was arrested, Paul relocated to Kabalagala.
Nabasirye, a rape victim, says Magandazi had colleagues with whom he worked. On the night she was raped, he allegedly asked one of his colleagues to give him his briefcase as they went to the bar. â€œHe pulled out a white handkerchief from the briefcase and kept waving it around while driving. I think it contained some lethal substance,â€ Nabasirye says. She describes the man who brought the briefcase as having many scars.
Another special hire driver says many women fall victim to rape because they con men. â€œThere are many men who rape women at night. The only difference is that Magandazi combined stealing with pleasure.â€
â€œMagandazi was a robber, a conman and masquerader. He was naturally convincing, which gave him an advantage. I see him with a different woman all the time,â€ he says.
On August 15 at 11:00pm, I drove to Kabalagala to try and find anyone with Paulâ€™s features.
I was told he sits in the corner of one of the bars in Kabalagala. I went to two bars that evening, but did not see anyone with his features.
According to a woman in one of the bars, many women fall victims of rape and robbery, but they never report to the Police. For instance, Kyobutungi and Namule never reported their cases to the Police. Hadnâ€™t they been found naked, their story would have remained unknown.
How to avoid rape
- Avoid lifts or drinks from strangers.
- Do not move by yourself late at night, especially after taking alcohol.
- Avoid leaving your drink at the table when going to answer natureâ€™s call, especially if you are surrounded by strangers.
Why serial rapists, robbers have easy prey in Kampala