KAMPALA – Not so long ago when Joan Kagezi, Maj Muhammad Kiggundu, ASP Muhammad Kirumira, Ibrahim Abiriga and Andrew Felix Kaweesi were gunned down in a similar fashion by well trained hit and run shooters, Ugandans hoped that the chapter was closed.
Several people were arrested in connection with the murders at different times but it appears no evidence was sustained to hold them accountable. They were released and I can confidently confirm that the families of the deceased persons have never received justice to date.
Just as the memories of these unexplained murders were fading off, unknown assailants sprayed bullets at Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala’s motor vehicle in what has been termed as a failed assassination attempt.
The early morning incident injured Gen. Katumba Wamala but sadly claimed the lives of his daughter Brenda Nantongo and his driver Haruna Kayondo.
I thought the installation of cameras in various parts of the city would help police in tracking criminals of this nature but many times you hear stories that some cameras were off due to technical problems, power cuts and vandalism.
Eye witnesses said four armed assailants riding on two motorcycles opened fire at the motor vehicle along the Kisota Road linking Bukoto to Kisaasi. Clearly, one would tell that these cowards or pigs or swines as the President prefers to call them, were trailing Katumba for some time and knew of his vectors and regular routes.
Katumba Wamala is an accomplished soldier having risen through the ranks over the years to become a General. He is a former Uganda Peoples Defence Forces Commander, the Inspector General of Uganda Police Forces and is the outgoing Minister of works but also a current Member of Parliament representing the UPDF in the 11th Parliament. He was certainly expected to bounce back as a minister.
Katumba Wamala was an officer in the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) at the time the National Resistance Army (NRA) defeated the UNLA in 1986. He has since fitted into the NRA/UPDF without incident and he remains one of the most trusted cadres of the regime.
Katumba holds a certificate in agriculture. In 2007, he graduated from Nkumba University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in international relations and diplomacy.
He also holds a Master of Science degree in strategic leadership from the United States Army War College. He has military qualifications from the following military schools: Uganda Military Academy, Tanzania Military Academy, a military academy in the Soviet Union, Nigerian Command and Staff College, United States Army Command and General Staff College and United States Army War College.
That aside, it was a tragic moment seeing images circulating on social media showing a shaken and distressed Katumba Wamala in a state of tears with his clothes stained with blood. The motionless bodies of his daughter and that of his driver were clearly visible through the open doors of his shattered vehicle. Katumba looked helpless and could hardly talk. One could clearly see that he was in deep pain and needed urgent medical care atleast to stop the bleeding.
It is shocking, I don’t want to call it an act of god that his body guard escaped without a scratch and is said to have shot some bullets in the air. Like Museveni asked, I want to re-echo the same question, why didn’t he shoot direct at the assailants, isn’t it possible that his shooting in the air was intended to give the assailants cover to escape unnoticed by the public. These are some of the leads that security to look into.
Fortunately, a video released by Katumba has atleast given us hope that his life is out of danger and we can only wish him a quick recovery. We also hope that this time round, security organs will arrest the real culprits and bring them to book.
Ugandans are tired of security organs that have maintained a habit of arresting innocent Ugandans, subjecting them to torture, forcing them to confess and parading them before the press. Had it been Kayihura in office as IGP, many Muslims would have taken off for dear life knowing that they would be the first suspects.
We hope the new police bosses will act with caution and only look out for the real assailants. Atleast the five of the aforementioned cases of hit and run on boda bodas should give the police leads to earth the real assassins. The police should not only execute their duties with a view of impressing their bosses or to give Ugandans a feeling that they are working but they must be thorough in their investigations.
My unsolicited opinion is that the investigators may want to look at the scandals in the awarding of contracts in the construction of major roads, the railway line and the current saga at the Uganda airlines. These are the basic leads. Elsewhere, Katumba is fairly a clean man and the last time I checked he does not have Presidential ambitions. I don’t see any other good reason why such experienced and well trained assassins would go for Wamala Katumba.
The investigators may need to carefully listen and watch that video that Katumba sent to his family while in hospital, after he had mentioned that the guys had killed Brenda, he was almost short of saying that she had nothing to do with this. Also look into the use of the word guys, that is not a title you would ordinarily attribute to a stranger. What did he want to say, does he know something about the reasons for the assailants going after his life?
Calling these guys names such as swines, pigs, terrorists or criminals will not benefit any of us, we want to see tangible results from the investigation. Even at the death of Joan Kagezi, Maj Muhammad Kiggundu, Muhammad Kirumira, Andrew Felix Kawesi and Ibrahim Abiriga, we were told that the Government had clues on the details of the killers; many years later, we are still living in hope just like those waiting for the return of Jesus.
The so called system of digital beacons on all vehicles and boda bodas will not help, as government attempts to get sophiscated, the assassins also develop a cuticle to evade technological advances. Now that the neighbouring house had working cameras, we hope they picked something useful that police can rely on.
If Katumba Wamala is not safe, then who is?
It was immediately after the 2021 elections that Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala while serving as a Minister of Works and Transport told Ugandans not take the available peace for granted and to avoid violence through protests. These remarks were made by Katumba Wamala while commissioning a theatre at Bukasa Health Centre IVin Kalangala District in preparation for the celebration of the 40th Tarehe Sita. I think Katumba did not have any threats then on his life.
Even if his case may appear isolated, it speaks volumes of what can happen to the rest of us who are not armed and/or trained. We cannot leave the task of looking after us to Mother Nature. Now that the killers are going for the soldiers, it appears their motive is different. It is a warning to the common man to take extra precautions and to avoid any compromising situations that will make them easy targets.
The author, Rogers Wadada is a Human Rights Activist and Politician