The Independent (Kampala)

Uganda: Desh - the Butcher of Panamera

Murder of a waiter at popular night spot exposes the police, NEMA, and KCCA

Mary Mugyenyi, the former MP for Nyabushozi County in President Yoweri Museveni's Kiruhura district had a big money deal. She was selling land for Shs 275 million. The buyer was the dashing socialite, Andrew Kananura aka Desh. As she told court later, Mugyenyi was making a terrible error of judgment but she did not know it at the time. In an agreement drawn up by Desh's lawyer, Geoffrey Nangumya, he was to give her a BMW X5, valued at Shs 75million and Shs 200 million in cash. According to Mugyenyi, Desh paid her Shs 100 million and asked her to accompany him to a bank on Acacia Avenue in Kampala for the balance. Mugyenyi says along the way, Desh "disappeared".

Mugyenyi remained unfazed because she still had her title on her. Shortly after, however, Desh approached her demanding the title. When she refused to hand it over, he sued her. His evidence? Apparently, while waiting for the Shs 100 million balance, Desh's lawyer had given her the agreement to sign. It indicated that she had received the full amount.

Like Desh, Nasser aka Big sold high end cars. At one point, he says, he imported two Range Rovers, a BMW, an E-class Mercedes, and a Volvo. Desh bought one of the Range Rovers for US$15, 000 (Approx. Shs 37 million). Shortly, however, Desh returned the car to Nasser. He claimed Nasser had conned him and sold him a 2008 model instead of the 2009 model he had ordered. According to Nasser, the deal got complicated as Desh had altered the purchase price (and therefore the payment made for the car) in the agreement to read US$150,000 (Approx. Shs 370 million) instead of the US$15,000. Desh reported the matter to police who were quick to arrest Nasser and forced him to surrender all his cars. Nasser is now a pauper.

Like Desh and Nasser Big, Haji Kayanja aka Speedo loves cars. When Desh called him about a 2011 S-class Mercedes, Kayanja asked him to take it to his house in Kololo. Kayanja immediately fell in love with it and gave it a few spins. He agreed to buy it for Shs 400 million. Under the deal, Hajji Speedo gave Desh his 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser and Shs 150 million cash. Desh later sold the Land Cruiser for Shs 300 million.

Trouble started when the Benz broke down after just two weeks and Hajji Speedo took it to a top Mercedes Benz dealership for a check-up. This is no 2011 model, he was told; it is a pimped 2006 model. Desh had allegedly only changed the rims, bumpers, front and rear lights, side mirrors and the interior to give the car a new look. Furious, Hajji Speedo called Desh and got no response. He drove the car to police and asked them to help recover his money from Desh. Instead, Desh took the car away to Nakawa Court. After a lot of haggling, speedo gave up fighting the matter.

Hajji Speedo, Mugyenyi, and Nasser are some of the top personalities crawling out of the woodwork to claim that Desh diddled them. The long list include The Independent's Andrew Mwenda, top lawyer Bob Kasango, former minister Richard Kaijuka, NRM Vice Chairman Moses Kigongo, some Chinese and on and on.

Murder at 3am

Trouble is that Desh is not available to defend himself. Some reports indicate he is a fugitive from justice. But his lawyer says he is away on a business trip in an undisclosed location. If indeed he is on the run, it would be a bizarre twist of events because the case at hand is not the multi-million alleged cons he appears to be infamous for, but one involving a paltry Shs 30,000.

Once again, Desh is not available to give his side of events. But according to police investigation and testimonies from former workers at his Panamera Bar and Lounge, trouble over the Shs 30,000 started at around 3am on Sept. 30.

Although, it was in the wee hours of the morning, the bar was still buzzing with customers drinking, smoking shisha, and dancing to heavy disco music. Abdu Katerega, the man who would be dead in the next hour, was busy cleaning glasses at the counter when he was told his boss, Desh, wanted him.

Deo Kashanga, who was at the bar, told The Independent, that shortly after this he heard noises from the area near the stores. Someone was being beaten with sticks and other heavy blows.

"You steal money from this bar," he heard someone shout; "You have been sharing money with customers. I am going to kill you"

Kashanga says when he peeped; he saw Desh standing, holding a big stick, and Katerega lying on the ground. He says he saw Desh lift the stick and strike Katerega on the head with it.

"I just felt pain deep in my heart," Kashanga says. A few seconds later Kashanga was himself called.

"When I reached where Katerega was, I just saw blood coming out of his nose as they asked me whether I knew about the money he had in the pocket."

Next in line for serious beating was Kenneth Kirenzi, a 24-year old waiter who was busy serving drinks when the dreaded events unfolded. He first sensed trouble when Theodore Kashangaki, another worker ran around shouting that a mob was killing someone.

Kirenzi recalls that he rushed behind to see what was going on and saw Desh, his brother Raymond Kananura, and Silas and Robert from the bar's internal security beating Katerega.

Kirenzi says he saw blood oozing out of Kateregga's nose and mouth and then heard them asking him who gave him the money. It was Shs 30,000. Karenzi stepped forward.

"I gave him the money," he told Desh. Then Desh's fury shifted to him.

"Where did you get the money from?" Desh asked.

"It was from tips," Karenzi said.

"Do you have more money?" Desh asked Karenzi, pulling him aside.

"No" said Karenzi, "I have no more money."

Nobody believed him. Desh got more furious. He ordered the internal security men to frisk him. He was stripped naked and clobbered till he fell.

When they got his wallet out, there was no money. But there were his bank statements showing he had Shs 9 million on his account. Desh was furious. How could he, a mere waiter, have nine million in the bank?

"You are stealing from the bar," he shouted. They started beating him again. Together with Kategrega, they were moved further away from the customers, and the beating continued.

Two other workers, Benard Babona who had Shs 12,500 and Allan Ovoyo, the stores manager, were also brought in and the beating continued.

Babona pleaded that he had withdrawn the money for transport home but Desh just continued whipping him. Karenzi says they were allowed to get tips from customers as long as the money was below Shs 40,000 although, a new manager, one Abas allowed them to take as much as they could get.

When Karenzi could take the beating no more, he told Desh that he will give him money if he let him go.

"Immediately Desh told his men to stop beating me. That is how he survived death," he says.

They brought in a client and beat him thoroughly and later told him to jump about like a frog after taking his money.

Kirenzi says after beating them, Desh told Ovoyo to leave since he was not badly beaten and gave Babona Shs 2000 transport back home in Bukooto. He then ordered Katerega and Karenzi, who were soaked in blood, to take a shower.

Katerega could not and he told Desh that he was feeling dizzy and could not stand and had difficulty breathing.

"If you want to be put in the trench behind the bar, keep complaining," Desh reportedly retorted.

One of the bouncers carried Katerega to the bathroom where he showered but failed to get out. Too weak to walk, he lay on the cold bathroom floor, with his head on his shoes as life sipped out of his body. That is where he died.

Police collusion

At around 7am Desh returned to Kirenzi and told him that if he wanted his freedom, he had to give him two million shillings. Karenzi agreed.

"Desh put me in a white van and he drove his black BMW escorting the white van," Kirenzi recalls.

Desh branched off to a police station where he requested one police officer to escort them to the bank and witness the payment but the officer informed him that since it was a Sunday there was no open bank.

"That is when Desh ordered me to go sit in a corner and made a statement with the police officer at the desk."

That officer later told Kirenzi that since he is a thief he should be detained.

None of this information can be corroborated for now. Kira Road Police Station, under whose jurisdiction the case falls and where the events were reported is tight-lipped. Apparently, that is nothing unusual in cases involving Desh and the police.

Panamera workers have told The Independent that workers and customers were beaten, humiliated, and tortured daily by Desh and his gang. They say, many cases were reported at Kira Road Police Station which is barely 500 metres away from the scene of crime, but police refused to act.

One of Desh's victims, Kashanga, says the police merely looked on as Katerega was being killed.

"I moved out and talked to police about the matter but they said they were there only to guard cars and not to interfere with Kananura's deals," Kashanga says, "Even Panamera's Financial Officer, Parren, said 'I can't manage that case'."

Kirenzi says even when he was dumped in Kira Road police cells on orders of Desh, the police did not care about his side of the story.

Kirenzi is the one who alerted the police that Desh had murdered Katerega. But when police brought Katerega's body to the station, Karenzi's in-law, Fred Wambi and his lawyer, Charles Tamwenya, who were there to take him to hospital were surprised.

"Why have you only collected the body and not arrested Desh?" Wambi asked the OC CID. He was told the police fear Desh. It was then that Wambi and Tamwenya decided to involve the media and called radio and TV stations and newspaper offices.

Workers at the bar say when police picked the body; Desh and his brother Raymond who were casually clad in shorts were relaxing in the lounge. Nobody touched them.

Desh's other alias is 'AK47', he allegedly always carried a pistol and had an armed guard from the Uganda army where he allegedly has powerful connections. His home is also guarded by Uganda army soldiers and one Ambrose Murunga, a Kenyan confidante and aide to the Inspector General of Police, Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, is Desh's close friend.

State House connections

But Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesman, Ibin Ssenkumbi, says there is no fear or police collusion with Desh.

"Police could not have helped those victims who were beaten by Desh Kananura because they did not record statements with police at that time. It's Desh himself who called police telling us that his workers were fighting," he says.

The Army Spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye also denied Desh has a gun.

"That is nonsense, how can the army give him a gun yet he is not a military man?" he said.

He says Desh simply created an impression in the public that he is powerful person and yet in actual sense he was bullying them. "And that is how far Ugandans have gone in perceiving people. They don't ask questions to find out whether is true for a man to tell them publicly that he has a military support."

"If a person commits a crime, that person should be held responsible for the particular crime he has committed but nobody should fear other people over baseless grounds. If I may ask, did State House send Desh to commit those atrocities that he is alleged to have committed?

If that is the case, then Desh's bluff has had a very powerful effect.

World over, the word Panamera invokes images of exquisite riches, beauty, and class, because of its association with Porsche cars. But Panamera Bar and Lounge on Plot 20-30 Saddler Way in the Naguru suburb of Kampala city is really a motley collection of dusty makeshift brick and corrugated shelters, drab furniture, loud music, cheap sex and beer. It is unclear why it was patronized by droves of city socialites.

Residents in the area say they were surprised that the Kampala Capital City Authority and the National Environment Authority allowed it to operate right next to one of the nation's top schools and plush residential area. In a letter to President Yoweri Museveni dated Oct.2, the residents complained of increased crime, prostitution, drugs and alcohol abuse, noise pollution, unbearable traffic, and loss of business.

"We have tried, unsuccessfully, to find justice and failed," the residents wrote to President Museveni, "We petition you to intervene on our behalf."

"It is unclear whether this establishment has got a liquor license...but we are aware that there is a court injunction refraining him from operating a bar on the land," they went on.

They wanted the bar closed. One of the residents, Chrose Investments, had earlier pleaded with KCCA in a letter dated May 29, a month after the bar opened.

"We own apartments occupied by diplomats and members of the Royal Saudi Embassy in Uganda. This bar on daily basis plays very loud music. The tenants cannot sleep and are threatening to leave the apartments," they wrote. Half a year later, KCCA had refused to intervene and their tenants had quit.

In a June 11 inspection report, to the director environmental monitoring and compliance, a joint team of Environmental Police Protection Unit and KCCA wrote that Panamera Bar and Lounge is located in a "a very important fragile eco-system".

"The Deposition of murram by Panamera management is to have adverse environmental consequences," it added. No action was taken to stop Desh.

Panamera Bar was closed temporarily after the murder of Katerega but reopened shortly after.

Those who know Desh say he will fight to clear his name. But the relatives of the victims and some members of the community hope he will not escape the long arm of law this time.

"When you meet a smiling Desh and try to crack a deal with him, you would mistake him for the best and smartest guy to work with in town and that is why he managed to attract many customers to his Panamera bar," one of them said, "However, if you entrust him with money, that is when you start to know how dangerous Desh can be."

Panamera victims speak out

Allan Ovoyo

Allan Ovoyo, 25-year old stores manager. He had worked in Al's bar in Kansanga as a cashier and auditor and at Steakout Bar. He says Desh threatened to kill him for taking his money. But he thought those were just minor threats from the boss. He says Desh would come to the bar and tell them he kills people for the government; he is a mafia and can kill anyone at any time he pleases and no one was going to charge him.

Ovoyo says Desh, his brother Raymond, and internal security guys beat up Badru Katerega to death in front of his store. Ovoyo says he received "minor strokes" from Desh.

Fred Nuwamanya

Fred Nuwamanya, 30-year had worked at Katch the Sun Bar. He says

Desh told him that he had seen Katerega take money on the cameras. He says Desh, his driver Kazeyi, brother Raymond Kananura, and the bouncer commonly known as Silas beat Katerega and Kirenzi.

He says Desh told him that he was a killer, mafia and that he was going to kill him. He says pulled another worker, Bernard Babona from the bar to the back and started beating him.

Peter Ojambo

Peter Ojambo, mid-30s, was a waiter specifically serving the Kananura family, uncles, aunties, sisters, and friends. "In my first week, I witness a worker by name Robert being beaten up seriously, and for us as workers there nothing we could do."

He says Baguma was sacked for three and recalled. "When Baguma reported on duty on that day, our bosses started jubilating saying our meat has come, and we did not know why," says Ojambo, until they pounced on Baguma.

Lydia Awino

Lydia Awino, 22, a waitress has a Bachelor's degree in Tourism and Hotel Management from Kampala International University (KIU). She says Desh was inhuman. "Can you imagine stripping me naked? I could only remain with knickers even without a bra to cover my breasts, and this was inhumane to a lady like me. In my life, I have never been subjected to such odious acts where a security guard orders a female worker to strip naked.

I did this several times and I felt ashamed of myself, I have lost the public dignity as a woman in my life. "I accepted to continue working in this bar after even being subjected to such a treatment because I could not get a job elsewhere and the living conditions are bad."

"Desh was the first person to kick Katerega on the chest where he started vomiting blood and became so weak," Awino says. She says police merely looked on. "To us, police seemed as if they were working for Desh," she says. She even called Jinja Road police using a customer cell phone but no police came to their rescue.

Anonymous waitress

Another waitress who feared to reveal her identity says she used hear stories of workers and customers complaining but never took them seriously until she was forced to strip naked by the security guards.

"I was dumb shocked over what was being done to me for the first time, a male guard to see my private parts, and even squeezing my breasts, it was an insult to me and to my religion," she says.

She says she was not beaten by the security but only stripped naked almost every day. "But I saw the following being beaten by our bosses; Prossy, Robert, Baguma, Bernard, Kenneth, Selestine, and Allan over allegations that they steal money from the Bar," she says.

Moses Baguma,

Moses Baguma, 26, was a waiter, has a diploma in hotel management from Celak Vocational Institute in Kasese. He says Desh beat him over allegations that he wrote a letter that was controversial about the company.

"I was tortured by Desh Kananura and his brother and the security. I reported the case personally to police in Kira Police Station on September 29 but nothing has been done to date." Desh has his people with whom he beats up workers and even customers and they included Raymond Kananura his brother, Charles (security), Matovu aka Kazei (driver), Bashir (cook), Robert (security), Kasule, Cyrus aka Bouncer, and then Onyango who formerly worked as a soldier with UPDF.

"These people could beat workers and even customers, those who get drunk," he says, "They wanted to burn me at one point because I never gave them information that they wanted."

Kenneth Kirenzi

Kenneth Kirenzi, 24, was one of the people who spoke to Katerega before he died. He says Desh ordered his men to check him, for money and he was thrown down, and stripped naked. He says Desh wanted him to give him Shs 2 million to buy his 'freedom'. Desh dumped him in Kira Police cells but he was rescued by a lawyer, Charles Tamwenya, and his in-law Wambi.

Andrew Otim

Andrew Otim, 22, is a senior six leaver from Bulo secondary school, Mpigi district. He was a bar attendant. He says Wednesday, Friday and Saturday when the bar was busy were 'bloody days'. Workers and customers were beaten.

"We would leave everything of ours including money, mobile phones, at the entrance or home," he says. He says he saw fellow staff being beaten many times and he was undressed many times. Otim says he could hear Katerega crying for his life as he being torture by Desh.

Deo Kashanga

Deo Kashanga, 24, was trainee bar man.

"I witnessed the killing," he says, "I just felt pain deep in my heart." After torturing Katerega to death, Kananura told clients to leave his bar. "We are worried. Some of our members are receiving threatening calls." He urges all workers working in the entertainment industry to report cases of torture to authorities near them before serious cases like 'death' can occur.

Emmanuel Taika

Emmanuel Taika, 24, was a bar man. He is a third year Social Work and Social Administration student at Makerere University.He said he saw most of the 'bad' things that went on at the bar including torture of both staff and customers. He says Desh kept promising to kill someone at the bar. "He had undressed me several times thinking I heard money belonging to the bar," Taika said, adding but he had never beaten me.

Taika added clients at the scene were bothered about the torture but most thought Kananura's group was punishing thieves and those that tried to cause chaos.

"I saw them undressing Katerega and beating him up using sticks, and batons. They later switched off lights."

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