Thursday November 17 2016

Lugogo shooting: Key eyewitness goes missing and 7 unanswered questions

Sorrow. Ms Doreen Tukezibwa, Kenneth Akena’s

Sorrow. Ms Doreen Tukezibwa, Kenneth Akena’s fiancee (centre), is consoled by relatives during his burial in Kitgum District yesterday. PHOTO BY JULIUS OCUNGI. 

By Julius Ocungi & Stephen Kafeero

Kampala/kitgum.

People believed to be police on Tuesday evening picked up a woman in Lugogo who is said to have witnessed the weekend shooting of Kenneth Akena, who later died at the city’s Norvik Hospital.

Her colleague who operates nearby told this newspaper, on condition of anonymity, that the elderly roasted maize vendor, known by her pet name Mama Namanda, was arrested on Tuesday evening and had not been seen again at her workplace by yesterday, sparking fears about her whereabouts or fate.

“The police came and talked to her and returned in the evening and took her away,” the source said, declining to discuss the matter further for fear of being picked up by security agents.

Daily Monitor spoke to boda-boda riders near the scene of crime at Lugogo on Monday. They said this female vendor told them she had witnessed the entire exchange between Akena and his killer.

Mr Emilian Kayima, the spokesman for Kampala Metropolitan Police, first said last night that he could neither confirm nor deny whether the woman, the likely principal witness, had been arrested. But later, Mr Kayima called Daily Monitor to say that “we do not have any woman arrested. There was a man claiming to have information and I suspect he is the one going to media houses saying we have arrested that woman.”

As fear and suspicion engulfs this tragedy, it seems that the police have now placed a man, who sells fruits nearby but is believed to have information about the shooting, under surveillance. Detectives contacted him more than once yesterday.

Police also secured a court order and yesterday contacted mobile telecommunication companies to provide records of telephone calls made from or received by Mathew Kanyamunyu, the prime suspect now under police custody together with his girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari since Sunday.

In Kitgum, late Akena’s father, Eng Francis Omona spoke out about his son’s death, calling it “brutal and devastating”.

“We are asking the government to ensure the rule of law; the law must take its course, we shall not demand for anything more than that,” he said.

He said the investigating authorities should ensure that there is no manipulation, must come to the real truth and find out who really did it, and why he did it.

“If we receive the results of the investigation that is convincing, that will bring happiness but if it’s manipulated then we shall say Uganda is doomed,” he said.

Mr Omona described his deceased son as a “humourous” person who used to interact well with other people.

But there is no humour hanging in the air over the places where Akena spent his last minutes on earth. That happy emotion has been replaced by naked fear in those who could otherwise shed more light on the crime.

Victoria University Healthcare Centre officials declined to speak to Daily Monitor about what transpired on the evening the dying Akena was brought in for treatment. Instead, Dr Lukoma, the chief medical officer at the hospital, who our sources say was the doctor on duty that day, refused to say anything.

“We told the police everything and we recorded a statement. Ask (police) what happened,” the tense-looking doctor said as he hurried past our reporter at the hospital yesterday.

Attempts to get further information from the hospital staff provoked Dr Lukoma who came out of his office and warned that if our reporter did not vacate the premises within five minutes, he would call security to arrest him.

According to sources at the hospital, Akena never received any treatment there. The hospital refused to take him in because they did not have the necessary manpower to handle his case seeing that there was only one doctor on duty.

Dr Lukoma is said to have called Saracen Uganda Limited, the private company that handles security at the building in which the hospital is located, to report that a gunshot victim had been brought to their facility. Saracen is said to have advised him to call police which he did. It is from Victoria Hospital that Akena was driven to Nakasero Hospital by-passing Mulago national referral hospital which is a few metres away.

A man working at Nakasero Hospital told Daily Monitor on condition of anonymity that Akena was brought to the hospital after 7.40pm.

Other employees approached by this newspaper to corroborate the official version of events at the hospital declined to speak to us citing fear of “spies” who have been wandering around the place.

Sources at Nakasero Hospital told Daily Monitor that agents from both the army and police have been deployed at the hospital and are carrying their own investigations.

As the investigations enter into their fifth day, Akena’s brother, Paul Nyeko recounts what the deceased said on his death bed.

“When I received a call from my brother Jordan about Akena being admitted at Nakasero Hospital, I rushed to check on him and at the hospital entrance where ambulances are parked, I was welcomed by a gentleman and a lady who asked me whether I am Jordan but I said ‘no’, although I explained to him that I was a brother”.

He said the man, whom he now realises is Mathew Kanyamunyu, told him that he was sorry about what happened to Akena, explaining that he had been shot when they were at the scene though they managed to transport him for treatment at the hospital.

He said the man was putting on a blue suit that evening and didn’t tell him his name. He only came to identify him as Kanyamunyu after he saw his pictures on social media as the alleged killer.

Mr Nyeko recounts that when he asked him where the incident occurred, the man told him Akena was shot around Kyadondo rugby ground.

“I was at Kyadondo when my brother Jordan called me, I told the gentleman that even the security personnel I asked there told me there was no shooting. He then asked me whether I saw Akena’s car at Kyadondo parking lot but I answered him that I didn’t see it,” Nyeko said.

Mr Nyeko said after this conversation, he rushed into the room where Akena was being treated. “When I entered the room, I called him [by a nick name] ‘Kenno, Kenno’ and he opened his eyes and told me ‘Papa (Nyeko’s nickname), I have been shot and I’m going to die’. I consoled him and told him he wasn’t going to die, he also told me that ‘I was shot from Game Stores, but not Kyadondo.”

Nyeko added that Akena also told him that the shooting came after he had brushed someone’s car, and that when he stopped and went to apologise, the person rolled down his car window and shot him in the stomach.

“Before he lost his consciousness, Akena told me, two times, that the people who brought him to the hospital were the ones who shot him, specifying that they included a gentleman and a lady,” Mr Nyeko said.

Nyeko believes that what his brother said is the truth and called for fair investigations.

Yesterday, Ms Doreen Tukezibwa, Akena’s fiancée, could not give an interview to Daily Monitor. She, like most of Akena kith and kin are simply too shattered and heartbroken to comment.

The seven unanswered questions

1. Mobile phones. Telephone communication information is usually important during investigations. In this case, it is important to ascertain which people key suspects, Matthew Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari called immediately after the incident. How come the police were not among those people called first or at all since the information available to us shows the police were first called in relation to the case by a guard at Victoria University Health Centre?

2. Hospital. Was Victoria University Health Centre the closest and most appropriate facility to rush a critically injured Akena? Is it the most equipped to handle such an emergency compared to all the health facilities in the area? The health centre is located along Kira Road, hardly a kilometer away from Mulago National Referral Hospital. To get to Victoria University Health Centre, Mr Kanyamunyu skipped a number of health facilities, including the recently refurbished China-Uganda Friendship Hospital Naguru. When the patient he was carrying was rejected at Victoria University Health centre, the publicly available information shows that Mr Kanyamunyu drove him to Nakasero Hospital, skipping Mulago and Kampala hospitals. Akena was later transferred to Norvic Hospital but he died soon afterwards. Why did Mr Kanyamunyu choose specific hospitals when he had an emergency at his hands? Andrew Mwenda, speaking as a friend of the suspect, told this newspaper that Mr Kanyamunyu visits Victoria Hospital for monthly medical checkups. We could not independently verify this.

3. Lone Samaritans? Why did Mr Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend act alone and not seek help as they played the Good Samaritan role as Mr Kanyamunyu has claimed? After Akena was shot, there is no information to suggest that Mr Kanyamunyu and his girlfriend raised an alarm to call for help from passersby or any other person. With the shooting happening so early in the evening, is it unlikely that the place was deserted to the extent that no one would respond to an alarm if Mr Kanyamunyu had called for help? Under such circumstances, is the kneejerk reaction to act alone?

4. Police. A Daily Monitor investigation concluded that the shooting incident happened at the road island turn opposite the Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) gate in Nakawa, which is just less than 50 metres away from a police post. We asked a police officer at this police post how a shooting incident could happen so close to their work station without attracting their attention. The policeman had no answer. A boda-boda rider told Daily Monitor that on returning from watching the football game between Uganda Cranes and the Congo Brazzaville team at Namboole on Saturday evening, he found an abandoned car at the spot where the incident is believed to have happened. He said policemen eventually appeared and started guarding the car. Why didn’t the police cordon off the place as a scene of crime?

5. Missing gun. The other unanswered question is the whereabouts of the killer gun. What type was it? Is there a licensed gun holder among the people involved in the incident, or those close to them? Where did the gun disappear to? Where are the cartridges?

6. No blood. According to the police, no trace of blood was found in Mr Kanyamunyu’s Toyota Land Cruiser Prado in which he ferried Akena from one hospital to another for more than 30 minutes after the shooting incident. Did Akena not have any blood in his body? Is it possible for one to be shot and they do not bleed? How did the first hospital establish that this was a bullet injury then and call the police? Was it the same vehicle and if yes, who cleaned it and from where?

7. Car keys. Akena’s car keys were found in Mr Kanyamunyu’s vehicle. How did they end up there? Were they in his pocket and removed by Mr Kanyamunyu? At what point was the key removed and for what purpose? What else was removed from his pockets before reaching the hospital where he was admitted?

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