Uganda: Mourners Curse Nantaba, Police for Ssebulime Murder

Parliament in session (file photo).

Mubende — Ronald Ssebulime, who was shot dead by police on Sunday in Kayunga District, was yesterday emotionally laid to rest as mourners hurled insults at government.

Rev Canon Jesco Wasswa Ssebulime of Mityana Anglican Diocese, who presided over the burial proceedings, equated the ongoing killings in the country to a state of war.

"We are in a state of war. I am saying this for my God. But as Christians. we are required to carry God's cross and die for the truth. Don't be shy. These are bad days," he said, prompting deafening chants of 'People, Power, Our Power, Twebereremu (let's take charge by ourselves)'.

The emcee, Mr Moses Jemba Byron, condemned police for murdering an innocent person.

"He suffered no disease. The Uganda Police is the cause of his death. Nothing beyond the Uganda Police," Mr Jemba told mourners as he wound up the funeral programme.

Ssebulime, aged 40, was killed in Kayunga District by police on Sunday on claims that he was trailing State minister for ICT Idah Nantaba. It later emerged that he was on his way to visit his children at school.

Latest witness accounts and police investigations point to extrajudicial killing by the police who arrested him after Ms Nantaba had reported that suspected assassins riding on a bike were trailing her. Ssebulime is survived by four children, his wife having died of a post-natal complication in 2013. The eldest is in Senior Four while the youngest is in Primary Two.

Mourners travelled from various parts of the country and dozens of the deceased's fellow bikers from Kampala poured to the burial home.

The mourners pledged continued support to Ssebulime by contributing to the tuition fees for his four children.

Social critic Frank Gashumba offered to take care of the youngest children and pay the school fees.

"I was appalled because I am also a single father. I know what it takes to raise a child. This is why I have attended the funeral. He was killed on his way to the visitation of his children and in a spirit of oneness, I will pay fees for the youngest child until university," Mr Gashumba said.

Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake said: "We should put the killers to task. Nantaba herself said he directed his bodyguard to shoot and he refused because he had weighed the deceased was harmless."

He added: "We should rally to ensure justice is achieved. They killed him while he was helpless. He leaves behind fatherless, motherless children. The granny, who would help, is also helpless. We will spearhead the process to achieve justice."

He and other mourners urged the media to highlight the murder until the bereaved family gets justice.

"Time is coming when they will regret the grisly past they have meted against Ugandans," said Mr Mohammed Ssegirinya, a councillor representing Kyebando Village in Kampala Capital City Authority Council.

Ms Night Nanungi, an aunt to the deceased, who spoke on behalf of Ssebulime's mother, requested for prayers.

"Ronald was a husband, father and all. Whenever he brought no food, it meant starvation for his mom. His death has left mom helpless," Ms Nanungi said.

"We continue to curse; we curse you Nantaba for causing the death of our son. Let them make different special roads for government functionaries. They can no longer mix with us. How do you handcuff, remove a person from a police car and kill him?" she said.

She said as Ms Nantaba continues to enjoy life, their family will continue to cry "and our tears will deprive you of peace." "We curse you for our tears. We curse you for the bereaved children. Ssebulime refused to remarry after the death of his wife. We are crying, you are out there enjoying. We have suffered since Sunday," Ms Nanungi said.

POLICE STATEMENT ON SSEBULIME KILLING

We regret that our initial media release of Sunday surrounding the drive by threats by Hon. Idah Nantaba was not totally accurate. The true facts are that on Sunday, 24th March, 2019 the Hon. Nantaba, while buying fruits at a roadside market around Ssinda, located 6km after Sezibwa bridge, saw a motor cycle rider, who from her instincts, appeared to be a dangerous person. The rider, who was inquiring about the location of Kabimbiri, immediately after sped off at a high speed, towards Mukono direction, but was given a chase by the Hon Minister, up to Nagalama Police Station, where she alerted the police and also dropped her bodyguard. She again tried to give the suspected rider a further chase in the direction of Mukono in vain.

However, the 999 crew from Mukono that responded to the earlier emergency call from Nagalama police station, intercepted the alleged suspects after they hit a road hump and fell off. The crew concentrated on the rider Ssebulime who was carrying a bag, chased and after a few warning shots in the air, the suspect stopped and surrendered to the police, who arrested and led him to the vehicle. The stranger, whom he was carrying, to guide him to St Andrew Kaggwa for visitation, also disappeared. It is true that the deceased was removed from the police pickup and instantly shot dead by our officer.

The police have arrested the car commander and two crew members to the 999 patrol vehicle for trying to conceal the true facts of the events surrounding the killing of Sebulime, after they submitted false reports about what really happened upon intercepting the suspects at Nagojje Trading Centre, on Sunday. The arrested officers include No. 51543 Cpl Ssali Edward, who was the car commander, No. 50162 PC Opira Ronald and No. 5729 PC Baganza Ronald. The other crew member, No. 62163 PC Cherotich Robert, is still absent but wanted. The team had responded to a complaint of a drive-by threat by the minister.

Police created a joint team of investigators from the Kampala Metropolitan East Region and Homicide squad from CID headquarters, who upon further scrutiny of the incident established new findings. We can now certainly say what was first reported as a typical police shooting story, where perceived dangerous suspects were shot at during a pursuit, is established to be a straight forward case, of murder. We are now holding the officers accountable for murder, conspiracy and for professional misconduct.

We are also using the incident as a test of leadership against the territorial commanders, who failed to detect the true reality of what happened on that day, and forwarded a report that was not accurate, to their superiors.

We once again extend our sympathies to the family of Ssebulime Ronald. His cause of death was due to heamorrhage following gunshot wounds.

The exhibits of a bag with eats and drinks belonging to the deceased; and the police guns have been recovered, to aid in our investigations.

Police do not condone any acts of extrajudicial nature, the reason we are holding the suspects accountable for the death of Ssebulime. We also want to thank the residents of Nagojje and the media for bringing out the facts, about what really happened. Without their concern, this would have been a case where the narrative from our first responders could have defeated justice.

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