The news of his death started circulating last week, before the family dismissed the rumours
Whereas most religious leaders preach forgiveness, Pastor Augustine Yiga chose a controversial line, building his ministry on retribution.
This earned him the moniker Abizzaayo, literally meaning the one who casts people's bad omens back to the source/sender.
No wonder when the news of Yiga's death started circulating yesterday early morning, his Christian Revival Church in Kawaala, a Kampala suburb, was filled with mourners who did not mind about requirements of social distancing and wearing of masks to avoid spread of COVID-19.
Margaret Nakisozi, one of Yiga's followers, said she first saw him in 2004 in a Kiwuunya, a slum in Nakulabye, Rubaga division.
"He has been a kind person who mentored us. I know that I was older than him but he took me in as a child and I called him daddy," Nakisozi said.
Yiga's business partner, Richard Kimbowa, said he had known him for the last five years. Kimbowa said ever since Yiga left prison in March over his reckless statements in regards to COVID-19, his health deteriorated.
"Days after I bailed him out of prison, he said he needed to go to hospital because he had a problem with his lungs and the liver," he added.
Mourners had filled up the church by around 9:30am and security personnel had been deployed.
"We are here to maintain law and order and ensure that people are observing the standard operating procedures to prevent the spread of COVID-19," Steven Kiirya, the officer in charge of Kawaala Police Station, said.
The news of Yiga's death started circulating last week, before the family dismissed the rumours.
In a Facebook post by the church, Yiga breathed his last on Monday night at St Francis Hospital Nsambya, where he has been hospitalised for several weeks.
In Africa, it is taboo to talk ill about the deceased. However, the death of Pastor Yiga did not bar some pastors from speaking about the negative side of Yiga.
Pastor Michael Kyazze, Omega Healing Centre
He was a sign of illiterate success, uncultured, ungroomed and unprepared leader. But he was zealous, gifted and creative. He would have done better if he had a mentor. We hoped that at a certain time, his life would change, but it has not been possible. We shall miss him.
Prof. Simeon Kayiwa, Namirembe Christian Fellowship
He was once at Namirembe Fellowship in the early days of his church, I cannot deny him, but I disassociate myself from his lifestyle and his preaching. He picked his terminology of Abizzaayo from a miracle that I performed in Hoima. I healed some lady who had been duped by a witchdoctor for a long time. The witchdoctor promised to kill me after seven days and on the 7th day, it is the witchdoctor who died instead. Since then, Yiga started using the word Abizzaayo. He was self-styled, self-motivated and young.
Pastor Frank Kyeyune, Agape Church Kawaala
I have known Pastor Yiga for almost my entire life. But we separated after calling himself ‘Pastor Abizzaayo' which did not look good to us in the Christianity faith. Yiga's health started changing since he came from South Africa, where he had also established another church.
Pastor Jackson Ssenyonga, Life Christian Church Bwaise
Ssenyonga accused Yiga of unbecoming behaviour not fit for a religious leader. "I am not saying these words because I hate him, but I want to open people's eyes that there are fake pastors in Uganda. I tried to access him when he was sick to see that he gives his life to Christ, but it was not possible.," Ssenyonga said.
Maggie Kayima, musician
He was my friend for eight years and we did a lot of businesses. We helped each other to build our brands, worked together to start up a television station, farms, schools and an NGO. He taught me to find my inner self. He was family to me. He is irreplaceable.