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Your dead relative might not be resting in peace

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th October 2007 03:00 AM

IT is almost impossible to imagine that anyone in their right senses can leave their house in the night, armed with axes, hoes and hammers to dig up graves.

IT is almost impossible to imagine that anyone in their right senses can leave their house in the night, armed with axes, hoes and hammers to dig up graves.

By Joshua Kato

IT is almost impossible to imagine that anyone in their right senses can leave their house in the night, armed with axes, hoes and hammers to dig up graves.

Residents of Kayunga recently discovered that skulls from over 100 graves had been dug up. This happened in Kaazi, Bubajjwe and Kiwangula villages in Kayunga sub-county and Namusaala and Bugadu in Busaana sub-county.

Wasswa Ndhaaye, a witchdoctor, was recently netted with a human skull during an operation mounted by the Police in the area. The Police suspects Ndhaaye to be part of the gang that exhumed human remains. However, Ndhaaye claimed that he bought the skull from another witchdoctor, whom the Police refused to name for security reasons. He said the skulls cost between sh120,000 and sh300,000.

“I bought one skull from him, but he had six others,” Ndhaaye told the Police. He said his intention of buying the skull was to attract clients.
According to a traditional healer, skulls have a big psychological effect on people who visit witchdoctors.

“The sight of the skull convinces the clients that they have visited a powerful witchdoctor,” says Matayo Muwanga, a traditional doctor in Luweero.
“It is also believed that when one gets a skull, he acquires all the powers that its owner had,” another traditional healer says.

He adds: “That is why skulls of famous people are more expensive compared to those of ordinary people.”
Grant Tabo, Kayunga’s CID chief, attributes tomb raiding to witchdoctors seek ing more powers.

“It is not surprising that a traditional healer was found in possession of a human skull just a few days after the tombs were raided,” he said.

Simeo Nsubuga, the Police spokesperson for Kampala Extra, says the Police are investigating witchdoctors who have entered the country in recent years.

“They tell all sorts of lies, for example, that they can use a human skull to make one rich,” Nsubuga says. He said the wizards tell their clients who want to be rich to look for human skulls. When the clients fail, they (wizards) offer to buy the skulls at a price.
“This is strange and backward,” Nsubuga says.

Apostle Alex Mitala, the chairman of born-again churches, says acts of exhuming dead bodies indicate some of the challenges faced by the church today.

“Religion has been in Uganda for over 100 years. It is sickening to see that people can still go and dig up graves to become rich.”

“We should stop making merry in churches when things are going wrong among our sheep,” he said.
According to the Penal Code, digging up graves without permission is a criminal offence, recorded as “Disturbing the peace of the dead”.

Such a person is liable to prosecution and if found guilty, imprisonment. Even in cases where families may want to transfer their dead from one area to another, they have to get permission from the Police.

Tomb raiding is as old as death. There are mainly three types of tomb-raiders. The first are the cannibals, who dig up freshly-buried bodies for “meat”.

The second are witchdoctors who raid tombs for remains which they use in their trade. The third are the wealth-seekers, who raid tombs to recover the expensive clothes and jewellery that may have been buried with the dead.

Tomb raiding for “meat”
Kayunga is not far from Mukono district, where witchcraft and cannibalism are believed to be common. Years ago, in 1928, the story was told of Kawulu and Nsizabazungu who conspired to eat Daliya, a beautiful young girl.

Since then, some areas of Mukono, especially Bukunja, are known for cannibalism. There is also another story of a taxi driver, who in 1955, was allegedly chased by residents of Bukunja in Mukono because he was carrying a dead body.

The taxi driver had been hired to carry the body of a boy to Bukunja for burial. He tied the body on the roof rack of his VW Beetle and drove off.

As he neared his destination, he saw a group of people chasing the car and thought these were cannibals who wanted to grab the body.

He drove off with the body, and reported the incident in Mukono, then a small trading centre. But as it turned out, these were not cannibals, but residents who were excited after seeing a car in their village for the first time. Others were mourners running towards the burial grounds.

That may have been a misjudge, but when a young man was found roasting a dead body a few years ago, many believed that cannibalism exists in Mukono.

In 2002, Benedict Seruwu, a man in his early 20s and resident of Nagojje in Mukono District, was nabbed by the Police roasting the body of a three-year-old child. Seruwu was busy eating the meat, while roasting.

“When somebody throws away ‘meat”, I have the duty to find it and eat it,” he told the residents and the Police.
“Instead of arresting me, you should be asking me how I manage to acquire good meat,” Seruwu added.

He is serving a prison sentence for disturbing the peace of the dead. Stories of bodies disappearing from graves exist, not only in Bukunja or Mukono, but across the country.

However, according to Nsubuga, a specific charge for people who consume human flesh is yet to be made.

Tomb raiding for wealth
When the late Philly Bongole Lutaaya was buried in an expensive suit, watch and coffin, his family hired guards to prevent thieves from digging up the grave.

Recently, when Kadongokamu singer, Paul Job Kafeero, was buried with an expensive guitar, guards had to watch over the grave for days.

A report from Egypt says by the year 2003, more than 50% of the pyramids had been raided and wealth stolen. In China and many parts of South East Asia, tombs are raided for the expensive stones.

Tomb-raiding is not a preserve for only developing countries. Last year, the BBC reported that a grave belonging to Sgt Paul Connolly, who died in the Iraq war, was raided and all personal items stolen in 2005.

“They took personal letters, expensive wreaths that had been left at the grave,” Connolly’s mother told the BBC.
Obviously, the skulls are sold. What a way to make money.

Your dead relative might not be resting in peace

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