Wakiso — Now totally orphaned, children of Ronald Ssebulime headed home in the hands of relatives, ostensibly for a function.
That is what Hana Nantaayi and Grace Nabulime, in Senior Three and One, respectively, were told while leaving St Andrews SS Kabimbiri in Kayunga District where they study. There was no detail.
The children dressed in their colourful blue uniforms and walked sprightly home, welling with the pleasant possibility of a family reunion and a catch-up with their father Ssebulime whom they waited for in vain to visit them on Sunday.
Unknown to them, obviously until yesterday, Ssebulime, who on Sunday had spoken with a sister who was already with the children at school, did not reach there because a bullet allegedly fired by a policeman abruptly ended his life.
It was not the mechanical fault with the motorbike, which had delayed him during the trip that stopped him.
As the children approached home, emotionally drained relatives could no longer hold back the tragic story.
They broke the heart-breaking news to the students; their father was dead, reportedly shot by a police officer for allegedly trailing ICT State minister Idah Nantaba.
The daughters broke down, wailing uncontrollably and their chest thick with pain. The agony was palpable in Nakabugo, a backwater hamlet in Wakiso District that belts the capital, Kampala.
Mourners had filed in droves and emotions inundated.
The sight of wobbling Nantaayi and Nabulime, held in swaying clasp of aunties, provoked wild wailing and rage. Words of fury and calls for justice echoed, rising and falling with emotional turbulence.
"Stop cold blood killings!" one mourner bellowed.
Another shouted: "Ssebulime's killers should be charged with murder." "Minister Nantaba should resign," a third added.
If the clarion call by these mourners angered one, the children's words summed their tragedy.
"We are now fatherless, motherless. Perhaps that is what God planned for us. We hope God will guide us through the longest [suffering] and a parentless journey," Nantaayi cried. Their mother died of post-natal complications in 2013.
Tears streamed down cheeks of several mourners. Many sat transfixed, among them Ssebulime's mother, Sarah Nattabi, who was her youngest grandchild and the deceased's last born. She stared pensively.
"It is a puzzle for me taking care of these tender children yet personally, it [was] my son who had been caring for me," Ms Nattabi said as the body of Ssebulime lay motionless in a wooden coffin.
The body was driven here for an overnight stay, a vigil during which neighbours will bid goodbye before it is transported for burial today in Kyabarenga, Mubende District.
He had toiled in life as a single parent to raise the four children. Ssebulime worked as a welder, according to friends and relatives, and invested in money to educate the children he hoped would take care of him in future and contribute to the country's development.
That future now looks uncertain, the fortune a mirage. It is a contrast to the entitlement of the polished.
"When government officials are overwhelmingly enriched, they tend to look at everyone else as if we are a different creature. Looking differently from a minister is the crime that caused the death of Ssebulime," said Ms Night Nakabuye, an auntie to the deceased.
Police withhold postmortem report
The family of Ssebulime yesterday left the city mortuary upset after police said they would not avail the postmortem report, which is ready, to them.
"They said they would release it after burial," Ms Sylvia Nakkungu, a sister to late Ronald Ssebulime, said, quoting police accounts.
The Force gave the family a note, authorising them to collect the corpse from KCCA city mortuary. Gun shots was noted on the chit as cause of death.
Ms Nakkungu said she observed that one bullet ripped the head from top through to the neck, suggesting it penetrated from the skullcap, while another tore through the cheek.
These discount initial police narrative that Ssebulime was shot as he attempted to flee. Witnesses said he was shot while handcuffed and crouched. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said the postmortem report "is a police document that will help us to determine whether we charge some people with murder".
Kampala Bikers Association yesterday said Ssebulime has been its member since 2005.
"We have worked with him for a long time. One of our rules as bikers is to wear a biker's suit each time you step onto your bike. May be the government should outlaw this, but it's a safety measure," said Mr John Lukwago, a member of the association.
He presented photos of Ssebulime posted on their Facebook page, including one dating back to 2013, to prove the deceased was a biker.
Who is after minister Nantaba's life and why?
Why did a policeman shoot a handcuffed person who posed no threat?
Why did the men on motorcycle flee from police?
How did a parent lose direction to his children's school?
Whom did the policeman speak on telephone to before shooting the purported suspect? Or, who gave the shoot-to-kill order?
Does Police Professional Standards Unit investigate each case of shooting involving its personnel as it should?
Who is the motorbike passenger who escaped and where is he?
If Ssebulime was an assassin as police allege, where is the gun they alleged he had?