Wednesday May 2 2012

Mayombo family wants death report

The late Brig. Noble Mayombo.

The late Brig. Noble Mayombo.  

By Emmanuel Gyezaho

The family of the former defence ministry permanent secretary, Brig. Noble Mayombo, has questioned why findings of a government probe into his death have not been released to them five years after completion of investigations. But the man who led that investigation, Maj. Gen. James Mugira, brushed aside their concerns yesterday, saying President Museveni issued a statement in May 2008 detailing findings of the probe which “ruled out foul play completely” in the death of Brig. Mayombo.

However, Rtd. Maj. Okwir Rabwoni, a younger brother to Brig. Mayombo, told Daily Monitor in an interview on April 27, a few days shy of the fifth anniversary of Brig. Mayombo’s death, that his family remains in the dark over findings of the inquest instituted by Mr Museveni in May 2007.

Maj. Rwabwoni said the government’s “silence” was breeding “conspiracy theories” despite Maj. Gen. Mugira probe handing Mr Museveni a report of their investigation in November 2007, six months after his brother’s death.

“It is only logical that any human being would feel unhappy about it because whatever the cause, it would have been good manners to inform the closest relatives -next of kin, about what caused the death of such an important person,” Maj. Rabwoni said.

He added: “He was not somebody peripheral in social, political and military terms. So, silence breeds conspiracy theories and although I do not believe in conspiracy theories, I feel that at least some of us who were very close to him should have been called aside and informed about what actually happened assuming the investigation was conclusive and thorough.”

Brig. Mayombo’s death, reportedly due to a failure of his pancreas after a short illness, sparked off speculation that he may have been bumped off, a matter that prompted Mr Museveni to institute a probe.

The probe team was led by Maj. Gen. Mugira, then a colonel heading the UPDF mechanised brigade in Masaka District, supported by Dr. Peter Mugenyi, the director of the Joint Clinical Research Centre and army biochemist Capt. Tagaswire Rusoke, then a lieutenant.

“I do not know why this story keeps coming up,” Maj. Gen. Mugira said.

“The President released a statement which was carried by the New Vision newspaper in a late edition of either May 3 or 4, 2008. He said a comprehensive investigation was carried out and toxicological texts from the world’s best laboratories were conducted which ruled out poisoning.”

While this newspaper was unable to obtain a copy of the President’s reported statement, when asked why no copy of the probe report was handed to the family of Brig. Mayombo, Maj. Gen. Mugira said: “The investigations were not done on behalf of the family. It was done on behalf of the State.”

Maj. Rabwoni said his family found no obligation to demand findings of the probe.

“It is the State’s responsibility anywhere in the world, to contact relatives of the deceased if an investigation has been carried out. But since they did not, we did not see any reason as to why we should put pressure on them,” he said.

Maj. Rabwoni, however, said his father, Can. James Rabwoni who died in December 2009, had passed on without obtaining findings of the government probe, a comment Maj. Gen. Mugira refuted.

Yesterday marked five years since the demise of Brig. Noble Mayombo. He was 42 and many saw him as a possible successor to President Museveni not least because of his loyalty and closeness to the President whom he once served as aide-de-camp. He had a meteoric rise through the army ranks, from lieutenant in 1994 to brigadier by the time of his death and is survived by a wife and six children.