The murder last weekend of Muhammad Kirumira, 35, shocked his legions of admirers.
Not only did the former Buyende district police commander die at his prime –his violent death by shooting has become too commonplace and too frightening for Ugandans.
The Observer retraces his last day and moments. Saturday, September 8, 2018 started as a normal day at the late Muhammad Kirumira’s home in Bulenga. The Kirumiras prepared to attend an introduction for a family friend’s daughter in Katereke, Nsangi.
Kirumira’s mother, Sarah Namuddu, says her son came to her house in the morning to remind her to keep time. Together with other relatives, they set off.
“Kirumira is very talkative. He drove us very well and we reached safely,” says a tearful Namuddu. “At around 1pm, he whispered to me that he was proceeding to another function along Entebbe road. However, he looked a bit moody as if not interested in leaving us.”
Kirumira left with his younger brother, Baker Kuteesa for Kawuku where his friend Maj Musisi Galabuzi was being introduced by Grace Nankya.
“From Nsangi to Kawuku, there were no people trailing us. We reached at 3pm and Kirumira was happy. He even danced to Chris Evan’s songs as the crowds cheered him,” Baker says.
At around 5pm, the duo proceeded to Kajjansi where LC1 chairmen had converged for a meeting. Kuteesa says his brother gave a brief speech and they left at around 6pm using the Entebbe Expressway to Busega.
“Kirumira told me to sleep at his home but I refused. He gave me Shs 20,000 and I got a taxi at Busega to Mpambire. Before reaching home, I received a call that he had been shot dead,” Kuteesa says.
Kirumira has been a frequent visitor on Musoke road along Mityana road, where he met his death. Before he parks his car at the roadside, he often chats with boda boda riders at the stage.
On Saturday, he first parked on the left, as if proceeding to Kampala. Tonny Mbaziira, a resident of Busega, who was walking with two colleagues at around 8pm, told The Observer that they saw his car.
“Later, there was a taxi coming from Mityana heading to Kampala whose tyre burst. We thought passengers were hurt and we rushed to help them with other boda boda riders. Unfortunately, the taxi’s front tyre had been deflated by a gun shot,” Mbaziira recalls.
“In a split of seconds, we had more gun shots in front where men dressed in black were surrounding Afande’s car.”
Before they could reach the scene, Mbaziira saw two brand new sport bikes without lights speeding off towards Bulenga. Each bike was carrying two people whose heads were covered with black head gear. As boda boda riders gave chase, Mbaziira and others started a rescue mission.
They waved down a taxi headed for Kampala to help transport Kirumira and the lady, Resty Nnalinya, with whom he had been shot. Nnalinya, who rented a single-room house near Kirumira’s home, was friends with the family. She operated a mobile money kiosk along Musoke road. She had just been called inside the car by Kirumira before the shooting.
“He was severely bleeding but not dead. I remember him saying only one word in a very low tone; mwanguwe [hurry up]. We carried him to the taxi but Resty was already gone,” Mbaziira says.
He adds that the taxi driver came back at around 9:30pm to inform them that Kirumira died around Busega flyover.
“The driver said a police patrol from Bulenga followed and asked them to handover Kirumira before heading for Lubaga hospital.”
Kirumira was shot just opposite the road that leads to his home.
When President Museveni visited the crime scene at 11:52pm, he walked on foot from around Bulenga Police station. He did not get close to the bullet riddled car but picked two eye-witnesses from the crowd to give their accounts.
The first witness, a boda boda rider, talked to Museveni in the middle of the road.
Museveni started: “Tell me what happened?”
The youthful rider looked confident while giving his account. “Mzee, I saw these men. Their two brand new bikes were around Afande’s car without number plates. One of them crossed to the right side. They first deflated his hind tyre with a bullet and later started shooting at him. One of them came to Resty’s side and another to Kirumira’s,” the rider narrated.
Asked by the president in Luganda why they did not chase the shooters, he responded that as the first team rushed Kirumira to hospital, about seven of them tried to chase after the killers up to a place known as ku mwenda.
“They shot twice at us and in the process; two of our colleagues knocked each other. This is the point where these four men managed to escape from us and we took our friends to a clinic,” he said.
The rider said he did not recognise the attackers as they were all dressed in black and the crime scene was not well lit.
“You would see their eyes but it was hard to know who is who,” he said. Museveni only told the irritated crowds that: “Abantu bano tugenda kubalondoola” as he walked with the two witnesses towards his car.
Police had fired live bullets and teargas to disperse the angry crowds.
The Observer understands that Kirumira’s car was towed at around 6am on Sunday to Bulenga police station. At 4pm on Sunday, it was again taken to an unknown location.
Kirumira’s elder sister, Jamidah Najjingo, said police owes them an apology for treating them shabbily at Lubaga hospital when they went to pick his body. “These men pushed us when our brother was at Naguru battling his case. Why did they do the same at Lubaga? Why do they show they need him more in death than us the relatives?” Najjingo said at the vigil.
Namuddu said her son has been getting death threats but he was taking them lightly. Early this year, Kirumira reported at Lungujja police station about suspects on a boda boda that were trailing him under SD Ref: 43/28/02/2018.
“Every day, he would tell me people want to kill him. I thank Allah that I lost only one son and his friend. Maybe, I and other relatives would have been the target since the plan was for us to return together from Nsangi,” she said.
“I curse the day Kirumira joined police. If he had stayed in teaching, I would be with my son now.”
At the burial in Mpambire, her husband Abubaker Kawooya had no kind words either.
“Kirumira has been a brave man. His death has not only hurt us but the country. He has served his country wholeheartedly but that’s how they have paid him,” Kawooya said.
He also sent a sarcastic message to the president. “Kirumira is gone but I have educated more children. If you need more Kirumiras, I have them in plenty, ready to die and serve their country. Just tell me you need one, I promise to send you more.”
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, a son-in-law in Kirumira’s family, blamed government for not cleaning up the police despite endless clues from the deceased.
He said Kirumira’s killers like in other assassinations will not be brought to book but his professionalism will forever be cherished.
“I remember a time when I was under preventive arrest but Gen [David] Sejusa came to visit me. Then, Kirumira was the DPC Old Kampala and he was ordered to arrest Sejusa. To my surprise, Kirumira showed up with his officers, called his bosses and said he was a mere AIP who will not arrest a General. Kirumira saluted Sejusa and refused to arrest him.”
Six years, 19 assassinated in identical style
- April 20, 2012 – Abdul Karim Ssentamu
- June 22, 2012 – Hajji Abubakari Kiweewa (Kigejogejo)
- August 2012 – Sheikh Muhammad Maganda in Bugiri
- September 2012 – Sheikh Abdu Jowali Sentunga in Namayemba
- November 1, 2012 – Sheikh Yunus Abubakari Mudungu in Bugiri
- December 25, 2014 – Sheikh Abdu Kadir Muwaya in Mayuge
- December 27, 2014 – Sheikh Mustapha Bahiga
- March 30, 2015 – Joan Namazzi Kagezi
- May 21, 2015 – Sheikh Abdul Rashid Wafula in Mbale.
- June 20, 2015 – Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Kirya in Bweyogerere
- November 26, 2016 – Maj Muhammad Kiggundu in Masanafu with his bodyguard Sgt. Steven Mukasa.
- March 17, 2017 – AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi shot with his bodyguard Cpl. Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Mambewa in Kulambiro.
- June 8, 2018 – Col Ibrahim Abiriga, former Arua municipality MP, shot in Kawanda with his bodyguard, Saidi Bongo.
- September 8, 2018 – ASP Muhammadi Kirumira and Resty Naalinya in Bulenga.