Police last evening described the cold-blooded killers of the most recent kidnap victim, Susan Magara, as “terrorists”.
Assistant Inspector General of Police Abasi Byakagaba, former head of counter terrorism and current police director for oil and gas security, suggested to journalists that Susan met a horrific death.
“She was gruesomely murdered by yet-to-be identified criminals. The body of the late Susan Magara was recovered [a few metres off the road] at Kitiko between Kigo and Kajjansi along Entebbe highway. The body has been taken to Mulago for postmortem,” Byakagaba said during a media briefing at police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala.
“In the course of the investigation, the Uganda police now has in its possession a voice recording of one of the suspected murderers,” he said, before playing back the recording.
A man’s voice, speaking in Runyoro (the local language in Hoima where Susan’s dad has a farm for which she worked), can be heard giving directions of where to find her body:
“You go to Namasuba… come to Bata Bata, branch off …,” the voice says.
Police refused to say who this person was talking to when the recording was made. Byakagaba is leading investigations. He said the police has placed a Shs 100 million bounty for anyone with information leading to the identity or capture of the killers.
The bounty sum is unprecedented, five times higher than the Shs 20 million placed for information leading to the capture of whoever assassinated the flamboyant AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, his bodyguard and driver last year.
When asked why this huge sum in relation to the Kaweesi offer, Byakagaba said: “That time was that time, this time we have offered Shs 100m and that is it. I beg that we stick to the efforts to get these terrorists who carried out this murder.”
Several times, Byakagaba avoided answering follow-up questions. He neither confirmed nor denied talk that the family had paid Susan’s tormentors half of the alleged $1 million ransom they had demanded.
Byakagaba had a similar response to one claim that the police may have advised the family against paying the ransom.
He rejected reports that the family declined to involve police in the matter, saying that they have been involved since February 7 when Susan’s disappearance was reported at Old Kampala police stations.
As the hunt for the perpetrators of this most callous, though growing menace, of kidnap-for-ransom proceeds, the police released toll-free lines yesterday through which information can be passed: 0800 199 044 and 0800 199 045.
The 28-year-old Susan Magara was kidnapped three weeks ago. She had been working as a cashier with Bwendero Dairy Farm Hoima at its Kabakanjagala procurement office in Kampala. The farm belongs to her father, John Magara.
She was snatched not very far away from her Lungujja home in Lubaga division where her car, together with hand bag and cellphone, were recovered.
Some relatives have been quoted saying that they were still trying to raise the ransom money by the time the chilling news trickled in that her life had been so cruelly and violently ended by this faceless terror.
The murder of Susan will show just how tightly the country is in the grip of a silent but vicious criminal element. Kidnaps, disappearances and unexplained killings, some of which police theorists attribute to crimes of passion, are on the rise.
At the same time, there has been a spate of politically-motivated kidnaps like the astonishing cases involving New Vision journalist Charles Etukuri, and the freelance radio correspondent Reverend Isaac Bakka who were grabbed by suspected state security forces.
Etukuri was snatched by men dressed in military uniform right outside the New Vision head office in Kampala at lunch time and bundled off. He was held in a safe house for about a week before being released without charge.
Bakka simply vanished and was neither seen nor heard from for over two months. One can only imagine the consternation of his family and friends when the reverend’s whereabouts recently became apparent upon his being quietly slipped before a magistrate, charged with treason and remanded to Luzira Maximum Security prison
In January, Francis Ekalungar, an accountant at Case hospital, was kidnapped, tortured to death and his body burnt beyond recognition.
A number of suspects have been charged with the Ekalungar crime. Among them is one Huzairu Kyewalabye, brother to Abdallah Kitatta, the patron of the notorious Boda Boda 2010 gang, at whose home the deceased’s car was found.
Kitatta was charged in the General Court Martial with six counts of possession of military equipment. According to police records, 24 cases of kidnap were reported last year. Of these, one person was discovered dead, police rescued 15 alive while eight of those reported missing are yet to be recovered either dead or alive.