When news of the death of Abel Katende broke out last Sunday, emotions filled Monitor Publications where he worked as a senior sales executive in the Advertising department. With his gruesome death making headlines in local dailies, his former colleagues remember a humble, principled worker who never compromised his job for anything.
In memory of Abel Katende, friends and colleagues share sentiments in words that describe character traits that made him the stranger that helped them start their journeys, on job, as sales personnel or the colleague they shared a joke with. He always wore a smile. It was easy to like him. He was a salesperson with this newspaper for 15 years during which he excelled at his job. Katende did not have to know you well enough to pour you a cup of tea.
Yet his last living days and weeks point to a life in near solitude. He had separated with his wife and children and settled back to the family country home at Manzwe in Masuulita, Wakiso District. There, he oversaw farm work, perhaps clearing his head of the stress that ensued between him and wife and children who have since allegedly confessed to ending his life in a rather brutal manner.
The disturbing narrative of the plan to murder Katende is all the more disturbing in both motive and execution, heartlessly so, for each of the people he often spoke to in endearing ways, ended up sharing roles in killing him. The unnerving gruesome murder leaves mixed feelings, particularly because his was not a natural death and goes beyond being killed.
He was murdered, his body parts reduced to pieces then foiled into polythene and raw food poured on its top for camouflage.
Katende’s killers must have been indifferent and callously motivated to prepare a meal from the harvest that is his sweat and toil. If findings that his murder was over land, then his killers are long from attaining it because justice is already in full effect mode to get to the core of the truth on where it all started and why it motivated the killing of the salesperson.
Visit from a friend
Two weeks to his death a long time friend and former colleague went to pay him a visit. On April 11 Edward Kayondo, a business analyst with Daily Monitor, visited him. “We had not met in a while and when I arrived at his home, we talked at length, and shared jokes too,” Kayondo recounts.
He gave him some of his harvest, two bunches of matooke and a chicken. It was on free-range and the two men put strengths together to chase it. That is the last vivid recollection Kayondo has of his friend. As he said goodbye, he asked Katende where his wife was and he told him that she was in China on a business trip. It was a lie. Katende did not probably want to open up about the strained relationship he had with his family.
How I remember him
Charles Bichachi, executive editor
I first met Abel Katende in 1994 at his first job as a salesman at the Uganda Business Directorate. He sold advertising space for almost all his life. He was an aggressive salesman yet always humble, persistent and focused. As we interacted, along the way, I sold him a van, which he needed to transport products for bakeries.
David Mukwaya, senior office manager
He started out working on the obituaries’ page in 2000. To him, everyone in Daily Monitor was a friend. When I built in Mpererwe, he told me his parents lived there too. When he did not have a car, I would give him a lift and he was always full of jokes. In 2009, I was a member of his wedding planning committee.
Wilber Nabimanya, business manager
When I joined Daily Monitor in 2006, he was one of the people who helped me settle in. He was friendly towards me and laboured to work with others. He loved Daily Monitor. He is a man who always expressed pride in his family. It is shocking that the same family is said to be connected with what befell him. He was a hardworking person who enjoyed having fun with others.
Grace Ssekamatte, account manager
When I joined Daily Monitor, he was really helpful and showed me how things are done. When he was planning his wedding, everyone was helpful. Even at the burial, there were very many people, not only former colleagues from Daily Monitor but friends from New Vision and Bukedde newspapers, which really showed the kind of person he was. He had a good working relationship with colleagues.
Emmanuel Twinomujuni, account manager
When I started working in 2008, he was one of the senior staff members I met at Daily Monitor. He was welcoming and helped mentor me. This drew us close and when I was ready to buy land, he connected me to his father-in-law from whom I bought the land. He was a person who worked hard and achieved a lot. I remember, at one point he had three cars and would offer a lift to everyone. He was peaceful.
Justus Katungi, head of circulation
Katende was very committed to his job. He was a real Daily Monitor brand man who liked the company. He was versatile and very humble. I do not remember a time when Katende quarrelled with a person, and I am not saying this because he is dead. He would greet everyone. It is a pity the people he worked hard to provide for are the ones said to have ended his life. He worked hard for his family. We are hurt that Katende had to die the way he did.