We need closure on Kibwetere killings
Posted Sunday, September 29 2013 at 01:00
It is 13 years since the mass killings at a Kanungu church in western Uganda left an estimated 1,000 people dead. The killings, in 2000, were blamed on the religious cult, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God headed by renegade Catholic clerics Joseph Kibwetere, Joseph Kasapurari and Credonia Mwerinde.
Last week, Parliament’s committee on Defence and Internal Affairs chairperson Simon Mulongo announced that the committee would re-open investigations into the incident following a petition by the local community who are bitter that victims of the massacre had been forgotten.
This is commendable. It is, however, disheartening that it has taken a petition by villagers who witnessed the deaths to remind the country that there are some unanswered questions.
Clearly, our treatment of the Kanungu incident is in many ways illustrative of the attitude we have towards the lives of Ugandans.
The government, and the country, should have taken a keen interest in knowing who the more than 1,000 people were and how some of them ended up in mass graves around Kanungu (away from the church) and even in Kampala where several bodies were dug out from compounds of properties associated with the cult.
Instead, we all forgot about the incident and even the commission of inquiry that was named in the aftermath of the incident never really got to work, and has never submitted any findings.
It is, therefore, important that we find closure to this sad chapter of our country so as to prevent a reoccurrence of it in future.
And very importantly, the site of the cult deaths which is reportedly being encroached on by land grabbers needs to be preserved both for the memory of the innocent victims who were duped into committing suicide, and for future generations to take lessons about the dangers of religious extremism.