Kampala — Security Minister, Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, yesterday spent the second day in Wakiso District carrying out parallel investigations into the ongoing killings in Entebbe and Nansana municipalities, but police withdrew 31 kilometres away from the area for a different event in Kigo.
Asked why the Police, which is supposed to take lead in investigating crimes was absent at his on-site fact-finding meetings, minister Tumukunde referred the matter to police.
As Security minister, he said his duty is to ensure that state agencies get to the bottom of the brutal killings of 19 women in Nansana Municipality and Katabi Town near Entebbe over the past two months.
Asked why they withdrew their troops to Kigo when Lt Gen Tumukunde was in their operational zone, Police spokesman Asan Kasingye said he was attending the East African Police Games at Uganda Christian University in Mukono District and unaware of the minister's visit to the scene of crime.
"I am not aware about his being in Entebbe and the meetings," he said before he hang up his telephone.
After meeting several groups, including traditional healers, fishermen, prostitutes, businesspeople and boda boda cyclists, among others, the minister yesterday told journalists to keep away from the ongoing investigations to give space to security agencies to do their work without any bias.
"We can't start prematurely releasing information. Allow us time [and] security should be allowed to investigate properly and conclusively," he said.
The government has turned to veterans in efforts to contain the worsening mysterious killing that Gen Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police, branded "ritual murders".
"There are different ways to get information. Allow the security agencies to do their work, as for me, I have come to find another angle to their investigations and I suggest that you stop reporting about the people we are consulting because you put their lives at risk," he said.
Lt Gen Tumukunde noted that he will continue to have consultative meetings with people as he visited different affected areas so as to get to the bottom of the matter.
Whereas officials offered no explanation for police absence, previous media reports have referenced differences of opinion and work methods between minister Tumukunde and Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura.
Entebbe district police commander Godfrey Ninsiima told this newspaper by telephone last evening: "We had an operational meeting in Kigo which we were all required to attend in person and couldn't delegate anyone to attend on our behalf."
Mr Karim Walyabira, the President of Uganda Herbalists Association, in an interview on the sidelines of yesterday's meeting denied police allegations that traditional herbalists were responsible for the killings.
"We send our condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones, but it's not true [that] traditional healers are carrying out the murders," he said, "These are simply criminal elements that are spread out across the country."
Mr Walyabira added that their association is currently carrying out a census to find out the number of traditional herbalists in the country.