Slain Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi tried to justify many controversial police actions, including his own.
For his actions, he received praise from his bosses and condemnation from mainly opposition politicians for cracking down hard on demonstrations.
His last defence of police was on March 15 in the face of calls from the European Union and US government for an independent investigation into the November 2016 Kasese palace attack that left about 87 people dead.
At the Uganda Media Centre, Kaweesi, flanked by army spokesman Brig Richard Karemire, said: “These [palace] people were armed and they were attacking security officers.
We found guns and machetes in that palace. The law clearly allows the officers to defend themselves; so, whatever they did that day was lawful and I do not see the necessity of an independent investigation.”
According to the Human Rights Watch report released last week the death toll from the Kasese palace attack was 186 people, contradicting the official figure of 87.
While closing a recent two-week training of police homicide detectives from East Africa, Kaweesi urged them to learn the latest technology because crime and its perpetrators have gone digital.
“Criminals now send non-manned vehicles or drones which are now tools of fighting wars. So, if you have never seen a drone and murder has been committed using a drone, you can’t complete that investigation since it’s more scientific,” he said.
In an interview with The Observer back in August 2016, Kaweesi addressed the thorny issue of why many police bosses come from one region.
“It is about inspiration. Many of the old police officers come from the west. These inspired their colleagues to join the force earlier and, therefore, they are the ones in position to take leadership. I joined the force a little later but I must say my presence in this office has inspired many young people from my village to join too,” Kaweesi said.
To many of Kaweesi’s protégés, his death casts a shadow on their ambitions. Appearing on the Capital Gang radio talk show last Saturday, Emilian Kayima, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, said Kaweesi was his mentor.He joined police in 2001 and shortly after training, he was appointed officer in charge of Ntungamo police station. He was later promoted to deputy commandant of the Kabalye police training school in Masindi.
Kaweesi later became the personal assistant to the inspector general of police (IGP), Kale Kayihura, but later left for Somalia in 2007 to train police personnel there.
On his return, he became the commander of the police training school. In 2010, he skipped the rank of assistant commissioner of police to become commissioner of police.
In four years between 2007 and 2011, he rose from the rank of senior superintendent of police to assistant inspector general of police, the third-highest rank in the force.
In 2011, he took over from Grace Turyagumanawe as commandant of Kampala Metropolitan Police at a time when opposition-led walk-to-work protests gained momentum.
Kaweesi courted some controversies in his career. In April 2014, he was denied a visa to the USA to attend a three-month course at the FBI junior academy for reportedly ‘persecuting’ gay Ugandans.
Kaweesi was in 2011 criticized by the international community, civil society, human rights activists and opposition for his iron-fisted handling of the walk-to-work protests.
In September 2014, he was appointed director of operations, largely to crush riots, a position he held until July 2015 when he was transferred to the directorate of human resource development and management.
This transfer, to many, seemed to be a demotion. At the time of his death, he was also the force’s public relations officer.