The thugs wanted money. Francis Ananiya wanted money. The significant difference is that Ananiya was working hard for it, while the thugs were just grabbing it. In the process Ananiya lost his life.
Sadly, the money that the thugs were grabbing was not Ananiya’s. The son, brother, husband and father of three was just in the right place at the wrong time.
The theatre was Nansana, where Ananiya, 28 at the time he was brutally shot, plied his trade as a taxi driver. He had dropped out of Bubinga Primary School in Sixth Grade, chiefly because his classmates made a big deal out of his relatively large frame, which earned him the name ‘Jajja’ (grandfather). This is according to Ananiya’s elder brother, Godfrey Waiswa.
Coming to the city
Ananiya spent some years helping his mother, Christine Kagonya, till the land in Idudi, until in 2005, when he was aged only 19, he left for Kampala where he thought the grass was greener. He started out as a tout and taxi conductor before he graduated to the wheel, ferrying passengers in the areas of Nansana, Wakiso, Busunju and Hoima. In being a taxi driver, Waiswa said, his departed brother took after their late father, Samuel Waiswa.
Fate comes his way
On the fateful day, May 29, Ananiya had dropped off passengers and stopped to catch a late lunch along Kibumbi road in Nansana. He was a financially struggling man, fighting to keep his head above water, and the place he chose to have his meal attests to this. It can hardly qualify for the name ‘restaurant’.
As he filled his stomach with local staples, pandemonium broke out. Ananiya was not sure what was happening but the only thing that made sense was to run for dear life. That is what everyone was doing after all. On getting up to run to safety, however, Ananiya was caught by bullets. Gun shots.
The shooting gangsters were escaping from their earlier crime scene at Cheap Hardware Shop in Nansana, where they had shot four employees, killing two on the spot and making off with an unspecified amount of money. Those who died on the spot were Jimmy Atukuru and Frank Aruho, while Amin Bugembe died in Mulago hospital. It is not clear what happened to the fourth shooting victim and his identity remains unclear.
As the thugs made their escape after a most gruesome act of criminality, bystanders attempted a chase, prompting the shooting that claimed Ananiya’s life.
But Ananiya was not to die that easily. After the blood-thirsty robbers had made their escape and citizens returned to their senses, Ananiya lay in a pool of blood. It in itself borders on the miracle that Ananiya was evacuated from Nansana to Nakasero hospital in Kampala, a distance of 9.5km, still alive, with all eight bullets still lodged in his body. Eight bullets. In one human body. And they were not even meant for him!
At Nakasero hospital, Ananiya was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit and emergency surgery was carried out on him, removing six bullets. Two bullets remained lodged in his rib cage.
In the days that followed, his mother, Kagonya, would be seen walking the unfamiliar environs of Nakasero Hospital. She had made the journey from Idudi, Iganga District into the unknown, but still hoping that another miracle would happen to enable her walk out of the hospital with her son, alive.
During those weeks, it is difficult to tell whether Ms Kagonya was more worried about the wellbeing of her son or what the hospital would do to her in the near certain eventuality that they failed to settle the bill.
Sylvia Namutebi, commonly referred to as Mama Fina, had come in handy at the beginning, handing the family the initial Shs5m that they paid to the hospital.
But medical bills for a person in Ananiya’s state was rising so fast. Fellow caretakers we talked to said that Ananiya’s mother feared that the hospital would confiscate her little piece of land in Idudi to cover part of the bill. When family members eventually deemed it too stressful for Ms Kagonya to stay in hospital, they took her back home.
Waiswa, Ananiya’s elder brother, says his brother, buoyed by the care at the facility, woke up from coma on June 1, wondering what had happened to him and where he was.
“He was only conscious for a while then relapsed into coma,” Waiswa says.
But things got worse. The bill was rising by the day, and before long it reached Shs58m. Nakasero Hospital stopped giving care to Ananiya, whose family had knocked on every door they could find and appealed to everyone they thought could help. They had appealed to the Inspector General of the Police, and the army too.
The reasoning that drove Ananiya’s family is sound. Their patient was full of life as he left his pregnant girlfriend in their tenement in Nansana on the fateful day. Out of the little money he got, the State collected its taxes, on the tacit understanding that Ananiya would enjoy services available for citizens, chiefly protection. Ananiya and his family didn’t have the money to pick up his bill.
The army eventually came in to pay the bill at Nakasero Hospital, but that was after Ananiya had been transferred to Mulago hospital on June 15, where he struggled to stay alive. He breathed his last at 3am on June 25, surrounded by members of his family.
The seventh of nine children, Ananiya was a source of joy to their family, says Alfred Kakande, a brother.
“Even in times of trial he endeavoured to put a smile on everyone’s face, laughing and joking about everything. He was so protective of his siblings,” Kakande recalls.
He left behind a pregnant girlfriend and three children, aged between five and 10 years. He was laid to rest at his ancestral home in Idudi, Iganga District on June 25.
On May 29, Francis Ananiya, a 28-year-old taxi driver, had taken a break to have lunch on Kabumbi Road in Nansana, Wakiso District, when gunmen fleeing from a robbery caught up with him. The thugs had just staged a frightening raid on Cheap Hardware Shop in Nansana town, shooting at attendants and making off with an unspecified sum of money.