New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: CSI-Kayiira Told Friends That Somebody Wanted Him Dead

Henry Kayiira, a prominent businessman in Kiboga town, was gunned down on July 10 this year. Police sniffer dogs led the Police to the home of his business rival, but four months later, nobody has been charged before the courts of law, writes Charles Etukuri and Luke Kagiri

He was one of the wealthiest traders in Kiboga town. Apart from owning a big shop in the area, he was also the director of Namutidde Investment Limited, a company that dealt in real estate development and general trade in the area.

Henry Kayiira also held the franchise of Mukwano Group of Companies and was the company's sole agent in the area. Because of his financial stature and generosity, Kiboga Catholic Church elected him as their treasurer.

As a businessman, Kayiira made friends and enemies alike. According to the former chairman of Kiboga town, Siraje Kizito, Kayiira was "the most successful, enterprising and honest businessman in the area."

In January this year, he wed Olive Birungi. The two set out to build their business together. Birungi says several attempts had been made on her husband's life.

"My husband had survived three assassination attempts. The killers always found him either in my company or in the company of friends, so they were afraid of attacking," she says.

In the last assassination attempt a month before Kayiira was shot dead, unidentified men broke into their bedroom, but the family raised an alarm and they ran away.

Despite this threat, Kayiira continued working without fear, but intimated to a few of his friends that somebody was trying to kill him.

On the day he was shot, Kayiira left home with his wife to attend to his business. But as evening approached, Birungi left him at the shop balancing the books and she went home to prepare dinner.

"He closed his shop at around 9:00pm, entered his car and drove towards his home located at Kabakanjagala on the outskirts of Kiboga town," says a friend.

The killers struck as he was getting out of his car. They fired at point blank, the bullet ripping through his head. After that, they vanished into the darkness.

"I was in the house preparing supper when I heard gunshots in the compound," says Birungi, adding: "I immediately hid fearing that the assassins had struck and were coming to kill us."

It was only after she heard neighbours rushing to the direction of the gunshots that she came out of her hiding place. To her horror, Kayiira had been shot. He lay on the ground bleeding profusely.

Residents joined Birungi in trying to save Kayiira. He was rushed to Kiboga Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival at about 10:00pm.

Motive

The killers were certainly after Kayiira's life because after they shot him, they took nothing. Kayiira had with him a bag that contained the daily collection from his business.

Friends, family members and the Police said they could not rule out business rivalry. By the time of his death, Kayiira had just renewed his contract with Mukwano, a company that deals with household merchandise.

Following the shooting, sniffer dogs led the Police to the perimetre wall of a business rival, identified as Asuman Mayanja Kasolo in Kiboga town.

Herbert Muhangi, the Kiboga District Police Commander, confirmed that they investigated this claim and found out that indeed the two had had a long-running business rivalry.

"Kayiira was a newcomer in the business and he was doing quite well," he said.

Arrests

Guided by the sniffer dog, the Police took Kasolo "to help with investigations". The case reference number is CRB13/17/2012.

"The dog trailed the scent of the killers to the perimeter wall of the home of Kasolo. We then arrested him to help us with the investigations," says Muhangi.

The case was registered under file CRB13/17/2012.

Kasolo was whisked off to Kiboga Police Station for questioning over the murder of Kayiira, after residents turned rowdy and attempted mob justice on him.

A member from the Kasolo family, however, says the Police carried the dog to the house and fabricated evidence to link Kasolo to the murder. The Police disputes this claim, maintaining that on the first day, the dog led the officers voluntarily.

"It is false to claim that we carried the dog to his home to fabricate the evidence. We re-visited the home after Kasolo was arrested and this time round, we wanted to recover the murder weapon. The dog was there to search the home," Muhangi explains.

The search did not reveal anything, but the Police say they recovered documents bearing the deceased's name.

Tension grips Kiboga

The arrest of Kasolo triggered off an angry reaction as an angry mob descended on his business premises and started vandalising his property. This prompted the Police to use teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the mob. The scuffle brought transport on the Hoima-Kampala road to a standstill.

The situation was only calmed after another team of Police officers from Kyankwanzi was brought to reinforce the Kiboga team.

A week after his arrest, Kasolo was released on Police bond on the advice of the deputy director of public prosecution on the grounds that the evidence was not sufficient to link him to the murder.

At Kiboga Police, a CIID official familiar with the investigations of this case says, the DPP insisted that the Police had to find additional evidence to corroborate the dog's findings so that a charge of murder could stand.

"We could not continue keeping him and had to release him on Police bond, but the investigations are still ongoing," Muhangi says.

This has left the Police asking a number of questions. Could Kayiira's killers have wanted to frame Kasolo in the murder so they went to his house to make it easy for police dogs to trace the scent? What were Kayiira's confidential documents doing at Kasolo's house?

After Kasolo's release, Police arrested three people named Jamil Kafeero, Mulani Ssekajja and Bosco Ssebuguzi. The three were found with an assortment of exhibits including a sub-machine gun and two magazines linked to the murder but Sunday Vision could not establish their case.

Family petitions Kayihura

In September, family members and relatives petitioned the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, calling for fresh investigations. Even though Kayihura ordered for fresh investigations, nothing has been forthcoming so far and the file continues gathering dust.

Following the petition, the suspect was briefly arrested and released. Muhangi says following the petition, the CID head office in Kampala took over the investigation, but the file is still open.

"Whoever has any fresh evidence should contact us so that we can conclusively handle this case," he adds.

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