The father of murdered 28-year-old Susan Magara, John Fitzgerald Magara says he now somehow feels relieved that his daughter's anguish has finally come to an end.
Susan, a cashier with Bwendero Dairy Farm was kidnapped on February 7 and later found dead 21 days later on February 27.
Speaking at her requiem mass today at Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church Mbuya presided over by Rev. Father John Mungereza, Magara said ever since his daughter was kidnapped on the February 7, he has done everything within his means to have her returned alive.
Magara said on the second day that Susan was kidnapped, her captors contacted Immaculate Magara, Susan’s step mother demanding for ransom; an amount he did not disclose. But according to audio recordings on social media purported to be negotiations between the family and the captors, the ransom was about Shs 3bn or $1m.
The captors also demanded that the family stops involving police and other security agencies in the matter. While addressing the press yesterday, Assistant Inspector of Police Abbas Byakagaba said that the police got involved in the matter on the very day Susan was kidnapped.
A case of a missing person was opened up at Old Kampala police station. Magara said seeing that his wife wasn’t making headways with the captors, he took over the negotiations.
“At first, I thought I was talking to cheap criminals whose motive was money…” Magara said.
He said he started carrying with him not less than four mobile telephones to be able to communicate with the captors who used more than 17 sim-cards during that period. 10 days after Susan went missing, her captors called her father and directed him to go and pick a package along the under construction Southern bypass.
On checking the said package, it was two of Susan’s fingers and a memory card containing a video recording they called ‘a must-see.’
Magara couldn’t bring himself to watching the video. He instead forwarded it to police who told him that it was Susan pleading to him to give her captors everything they wanted so she gets freed.
The video also detailed that how Susan had lost two of her fingers. At this point Magara had already established contact with President Yoweri Museveni who would call him at least twice a day to find out the progress of the rescue efforts.
Magara was also able to see Museveni at State House in an interface that lasted about two hours and pleaded with him to allow the family deal with Susan’s captors without involving security agencies.
On Saturday last week the family delivered the ransom money that the captors had asked for. Magara did not reveal how much was paid as ransom but it is said the captors had demanded for $1 million (Shs 3.6 billion). However, according to people familiar with the transaction, only about Shs 700 million was paid. After paying the ransom, Magara hoped Susan would be released on Saturday.
“We gave them what they had asked for and we kept it a secret among ourselves hoping to surprise people but this did not happen on Saturday, and Sunday. On Monday, I started feeling something was wrong,” Magara said sending gasps among the mourners who filled to capacity the Mbuya church.
Yesterday, Monday morning, Magara received a call from Museveni saying, “Mutabani omwana bamwisire,” [my son, your daughter has been killed] Magara quotes Museveni as saying.
He added that Museveni told him that his people had indeed confirmed that the body that had been dumped along the Southern bypass was that of Susan. He nevertheless went to confirm and at the scene, he met with police chief Kale Kayihura.
“I looked at the body and it was very fresh; she had been killed that night,” Magara says. “We don’t know what happened, we are waiting for answers.”
Cindy Magara Lukwago, a sister to Suzan but currently in Australia said in an eulogy read for her by her husband Daniel Lukwago that government must come out and explain the rampant killings and kidnap of Ugandans.
“The question now is; who is next,” Lukwago said. “We ask UCC [Uganda Communication Commission] and telecom companies to do their jobs. How come numbers that are not registered are in use? We need answers. We want Suzan and all other people who have been killed in the last one year to get justice,” Lukwago said.
Suzan Magara was born January 20 1989 in Hoima where she started her schooling at St Christina Kindergarten, St Jude primary school, completing P7 in 2001.
She later joined Mariam high school Ntinda for O-level, and St Lawrence Citizen Paris Palace for A-level completing in 2008. She had a bachelors’ degree in Ethics and Development from Nkozi University and a master’s degree in Accounting from India.
She has been a member of the Rotaract Club of Bugolobi. Her mother Mary Maureen Kabayanja passed on about 15 years ago.