One of the assignments I was working on involved the public complaining about senior police officers frustrating their cases and, in some cases, associating with criminals.
I called AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi last Thursday at 10.45am and requested for an interview. When I told him about the allegations that there might be police officers who were criminals, he laughed and asked, “You want us to hang them?”
He then told me to call him back at 3pm so he could tell me his location. When I called, he told me to go to Naguru Police Headquarters immediately. At the reception, I was detained by an officer in plain clothes who could not believe that Kaweesi had accepted to have an interview with Daily Monitor.
After I filled in the visitor’s request form, he told me to call the AIGP on my mobile phone so that he could confirm that I was on appointment. I asked why he could not use his own phone to call Kaweesi. He said he did not have airtime and besides, the desk phone at the reception only received calls. Irritated, I gave him a piece of my mind about his incompetence. I actually told him he was wasting my time. And indeed he was because when he finally took the visitor’s form to Kaweesi’s secretary, he was informed that the boss had just gone into a meeting.
I sat in the crowded visitor’s section at the reception. It was 3.40pm. The officers at the reception kept on calling people to go upstairs. By 4.30pm, I was beginning to wonder if I should leave and call Kaweesi on Friday morning to reschedule the interview. I sent my supervisor a message and he told me to persist as a journalist.
Shortly after, I was the only one in the visitor’s section. The officers at the reception changed guard at 5pm. My mood darkened. I sent another message to my editor but he told me to stay put.
The entire building was emptying at an alarming rate. People were going home and I slightly felt uneasy. I walked to the reception and confronted one of the two officers on the nightshift. He was wearing a bright red coat. I told him I had an appointment with Kaweesi.
“At this time?” he asked, adding, “I advise you to return tomorrow. Come at about 10am because that is the time he comes in office.”
I walked back to the sitting section. A few minutes later, the man called me and said I should go up. But then, an eldery reverend who had been hanging around the reception was ushered in first. I went up stairs and met the secretary who called Kaweesi’s bodyguard to deal with me.
I was struck by the humility of the bodyguard. He apologised for the delay. “You are from Daily Monitor? If I had known I would have taken you in before the reverend,” he said.
I sat in what used to be the outer room of Mr Fred Enanga’s office. I found two men there; one with an automatic rifle. We exchanged pleasantries. From my position, I could see all the way to the end of the corridor, where Kaweesi’s office was. The bodyguard was pacing the empty corridor.
After few minutes, he would stand at his boss’ door for a couple of minutes. What struck me was that the holster tied to his thigh was open – like he was ready to pull out the pistol any time.
The officer with the automatic rifle suddenly got up and also began pacing the corridor, but in the opposite direction.
“Madam, please come and sit here,” the bodyguard called me. He took me to an exit and told me to sit on a white plastic chair at the head of a staircase. After apologising for the delay again, he resumed his pacing.
He moved noiselessly. Sometimes, when I looked out the window, lost in thought, he would suddenly appear at my side. Then, he would pace the corridor again. My eyes kept staring at the open holster. I begun thinking: Supposing men came up the staircase, guns blazing, would this man give his life to protect Kaweesi?
Nature of their work
It occurred to me that this was the routine of bodyguards. It was their curse to die with their bosses. I began to look at him in a new light. I wondered if he had a family.
How would they receive the news of his death? Being a journalist, I knew the bodyguard’s death would never break the news. Kaweesi’s death would certainly make the headlines, I thought. What is it like to know that any moment a bullet can bring you down?
These morbid thoughts brought a chill in my body. I thought it was the cold from the open window and I deliberately turned my head to look at the traffic jam.
Suddenly, Kaweesi opened his door and the reverend came out. Kaweesi beckoned to me. I entered the office and he apologised for keeping me waiting.
“You see, you ambushed me with these claims so I had to find out about them,” he said.
He sat down and made a call, asking if they had tea because he was, ‘dying of hunger.’ I must admit, I was disarmed. I have met some really rough police officers but Kaweesi was cordial, smiling, and really interested in what I was saying.
He was a busy talker. As he spoke, his hands moved in the air. They were beautiful hands with long fingers and well-manicured nails. His wedding ring was shinny; new or recently polished.
As we talked about crime in the security circles, I wondered how the families of officers live with the constant fear of death.
I immediately shook off the idea and reminded myself that Kaweesi was a policeman, not a soldier.
At 6.40pm, as we were leaving his office, Kaweesi asked why Daily Monitor had many journalists covering the police. I told him I was a features writer. He smiled and I could see he was just humouring me.
He was in a hurry to leave. We bid farewell to each other and he turned to the bodyguard who was standing inches away “Aya, twende,” he said to him. They went down the small staircase while I began the lonely walk out of police headquarters. I couldn’t shake off the thoughts about Kaweesi. I had had such a terrible image of him before the interview.
Last Friday morning, I had an interview with Monsignor Waynard Katende at Namugongo.
During the interview, at about 9.50am, my supervisor called my phone. I sent him a message to hold. After the interview, I read my messages. “You know Kaweesi has been killed? Where are you?” my supervisor had written. I felt that chill again.
The boda boda man asked: “Is it about this one who has been shot dead?” I was lost for words.