26 April 2009

Uganda: CID Probes Kidnap of Kayanja's Aide

Kampala — The Police are investigating the alleged kidnap and torture of Chris Muwonge, the personal aide of Pastor Robert Kayanja of Rubaga Miracle Centre, in what seems a deepening row between rival Pentecostal (Born Again) churches.

Muwonge testified before the press yesterday that he had been abducted by armed men on the morning of April 18, while returning from overnight prayers, and held for five days.

"As I was picking a boda boda to go home, someone called me by name and said I had dropped my money. When I looked back, the man told me to enter a parked car. If I did not, he warned, the man in the car would shoot me," the 27-year-old told journalists at the Miracle Centre church.

He said a gun was pointed at him as he entered the car; he was blindfolded and driven away. When the blindfold was removed, Muwonge noted, he was in a bathroom with a TV camera before him.

"My captors beat me while ordering me to look into the camera and testify that Pastor Kayanja had been sodomising boys. I refused. They promised me $100,000 (sh200m) and pocket money amounting to $20,000 (sh40m). They said they could fly me to any country of my choice."

Muwonge said he was eventually dumped outside Kayanja's residence in Kawuku-Gaba on Thursday. His head was covered in a plastic bag and his hands were trussed behind his back.

He was discovered by area residents who at first thought he was dead. They alerted Pastor Kayanja's housekeeper, who notified

her boss. Kayanja called the Police who rushed him to International Hospital Kampala for treatment.

The Police spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba, said they were investigating the incident. "We are taking this very seriously given that it may have security implications. We need to get to the bottom of the matter," she told The New Vision.

Pastor Kayanja has accused his rival, Pastor Michael Kyazze of Omega Healing Centre, of being behind a ploy to discredit him and ruin his reputation.

Both pastors belonged to the Miracle Centre before Kyazze split away and formed his own church.

The alleged kidnap follows another incident in which Kyazze's assistant, Pastor Robert Kayiira, was arrested by the Police for allegedly trespassing on Kayanja's property.

Kayanja at the press conference yesterday explained that Kayiira was arrested by his security officials when he was trying to sneak a laptop into the Miracle Centre. He was later handed over to the Police and charged with criminal trespass and possession of defamatory information.

"After being interrogated by the Police for over six hours, it was revealed that he had been sent by his boss to get information about a room in my church where they allege I sexually harass young boys," Kayanja said.

Kyazze could not be reached for comment since he was out of the country. But one of his close associates, Pastor Solomon Male, said Kayiira was not arrested.

"He was kidnapped on Nabunya Road and dragged to Rubaga Miracle centre before the Police was called in," he said.

According to Male, a man called Herbert Tumukunde had approached Pastor Kyazze making serious allegations against Kayanja.

Tumukunde allegedly claimed he had video evidence and needed a laptop to download the material.

"Kyazze asked him to pass on the video evidence. But since he had to fly out on Easter Monday, he asked Kayiira to handle the matter," Mbale said, adding that he wants a parliamentary inquiry into the matter.

"It has nothing to do with rivalry. It is a matter of fighting the rot in our religious entities," he stressed.

Dozens of churches have sprung up in Kampala and around the country in recent years.

Some pastors have been accused of enriching themselves by asking their followers to sow (donate money) in order to reap (have miracles performed).

Pentecostal pastors in particular have been embroiled in a bitter fight over followers, with some accusing others of witchcraft.


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