KAMPALA. Since the death of Kenneth Akena on Saturday night following a shooting at Lugogo in Kampala, the circumstances surrounding the tragic event have remained murky. Matthew Kanyamunyu and his Burundian girlfriend Cynthia Munwangari are the key suspects in the murder and remain in police detention as investigations continue.
Akena in his dying declaration to his brother John Nyeko said Mr Kanyamunyu, who had delivered him to hospital ostensibly as a Good Samaritan, is in fact the one who shot him following a traffic incident at Game Stores when their cars scratched.
Reports have variously indicated that the shooting happened near an ATM machine around the shopping malls at Lugogo as Akena reversed out of the parking and accidentally brushed Kanyamunyu’s vehicle.
There are three major shopping malls at Lugogo: Games Stores and Shoprite, which are under the same management, and Forest Mall, which shares the upper entry gate on Lugogo Bypass with the two.
According to police accounts, the incident happened in the parking lot of Game Stores, the area facing Jinja Road. Other accounts claim the incident happened at Forest Mall.
Police’s lead investigator Wamimbi with scene of crime officers (SOCO) from Kampala Metropolitan Police and Criminal Investigations Directorate on Monday visited Game Stores to ascertain where in the parking yard or near the bank ATM the incident could have happened. They found nothing; neither cartridges nor traces of blood.
Other accounts have mentioned Forest Mall as the place where the incident happened, with New Vision quoting an eyewitness who was reportedly standing near the main gate at Oryx Fuel Station claiming to have seen someone being lifted into the car. However, there is no indication from police that this is a line of investigation being pursued.
So far, according to police, no gun has been found from all searches in the suspect’s vehicle and his home. Mr Kanyamunyu maintains that he was not armed, and is not a licensed gun holder.
Malls unlikely place
Former State House intelligence officer Charles Rwomushana, while appearing on local NBS television on Tuesday morning was among the people who questioned the Game Stores/Forest Mall version of the events.
“These shopping malls are among the most guarded places in Kampala with security officers from various groups operating within 50 metres of each other. An incident like this cannot happen and an alert is not triggered immediately,” he told this newspaper.
Daily Monitor visited the two shopping malls on Tuesday morning to reconstruct the events of that Saturday evening and spoke to security guards and boda-boda riders at the different stages around the three malls. A different picture emerged of what could have transpired. At the Forest Mall, our reporter observed the presence of guards (some in uniform others ununiformed, some armed, others unarmed) in strategic points of the parking yard and at entrances of different banks. According to some of the security officers we spoke to, this is what they do every day because this is an area terrorists can easily target. They said they had read about the reported incident in the press and watched on television but are not aware of any shooting that happened there.
“As you can see, we have guards everywhere; each one is watching a section of cars. We must scrutinise whoever is parking or driving away to see any suspicious behaviour,” one of them who asked to remain anonymous told this newspaper, adding: “There is no way one can shoot someone here and they get away with it at whatever time of the day.”
This particular guard was on duty on Saturday and signed off at 6pm. He returned on Sunday and his colleagues who took over did not report anything unusual. One of the parking yard cleaners we spoke to also said – on condition of anonymity – he did not find any blood-soaked patch in the parking yard on Sunday morning, nor an unusually clean patch that could have been scrubbed to clean any mess arising from the shooting.
At Shoprite and Game Stores, the guards similarly discounted the incident having happened in their yard.
“Look at this place, we are here all day and all night. We close the gates at 10pm. No such incident can happen here and we don’t know”, said a security guard on condition of anonymity.
On the side of the parking yard where the incident reportedly happened are two banks – Barclays and dfcu – with armed guards at the ATMs. At the corner is Stanbic Bank ATM. Between the banks’ verandah and the fence of the mall’s parking yard is a less than 50 metres. It is difficult to explain how the guards could have missed a shooting incident which is within eyesight and within earshot.
So, if nothing happened in the parking yard of Game Stores and Forest Mall, then where could it have happened and why did Akena in his dying declaration to his brother say he had been shot at Game Stores Lugogo? By this statement, did the deceased mean Lugogo malls or Lugogo the place as many people refer to it.
As our reporter drove into Game Stores turning off Jinja Road, he joked with the guard checking the car asking him why they were engaging in useless searches yet only on Saturday, they let in someone with a gun who ended up killing another motorist.
He smiled and said: “That incident happened over there, not here” as he pointed across Jinja Road near the Star Auto Paradise car bond.
Initially, all the guards were cagey but eventually two of them at the dfcu bank ATM volunteered some information. “Two policemen guarding the stores near the road to Naguru hospital had told them they heard two gunshots at about 8pm. The gunshots were not in the parking yard; they were across the road,” he said.
This information was corroborated by the boda-boda riders at the stage opposite the bus stop. One of them who worked late on Saturday reportedly heard two or three gunshots from the Nakawa side about 8pm.
If the incident was sparked by a minor car accident, then it could have been at either of two places located towards Nakawa area: the turn into Jinja Road from Game Stores or at the road island turn opposite Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) gate. The former is very close to where the KK Security officers guarding Game Stores and the dfcu Bank ATM keep watch. They should have heard the gunshots and witnessed everything. They even could have intervened because they are armed.
That leaves the latter as the other possibility. Our reporters went to the boda boda stage opposite the turn and right next to the car bond. There, a boda boda rider confirmed having seen the blue Toyota Premio parked along the main road right at the entry to Shell Club Lugogo between 8pm and 9pm. He had just returned from watching the Uganda Cranes match at Namboole and wondered why the car was parked there with windows open. Shortly after, he says, policemen arrived at the scene to guard the car. One policeman told him the owner of the car had been shot.
The boda boda riders told Daily Monitor that a vendor who sells groundnuts and roasted maize in the evening had witnessed the whole episode which she narrated to them. According to them, the Toyota Premio seemed to have brushed the Land Cruiser Prado as they both turned off at the island. The Premio driver stopped just near the road turning into Shell Club and the Prado driver stopped slightly ahead. The Premio driver came out to seemingly apologise and agree on how to settle the problem.
The Prado driver, however, jumped out of his car angry, opened the boot, removed a gun and proceeded to slap the other driver. He dragged him towards his car. A woman in the car was reportedly heard shouting “please leave him; come and we go”. In that moment, the Prado driver reportedly placed the gun near the stomach of the other driver and fired two shots. He then pushed the injured driver into his vehicle and drove off. We could not independently verify this account.
Police post 50 metres away
Akena’s vehicle was indeed found at this exact place without the keys. The keys were, according to police, found in Mr Kanyamunyu’s car. The incident happened less than 50 metres away from a police post that is adjacent to the bond and near the entry to Kyadondo Rugby Club.
The officer in charge of the police post refused to speak to this newspaper referring us instead to the DPC Jinja Road or the Force’s spokesperson. He refused to say whether he (or any of his officers) heard any gunshots but insisted that the police post is manned 24 hours. He also refused to answer why the area had not been declared a scene of crime.
When contacted yesterday evening, police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi said: “I cannot conclusively state whether the shooting happened at the Game area or outside—opposite the UMA gate. Right now, there are so many pieces of information that we are trying to piece together to establish what exactly happened.
Police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweesi says the relatives said the deceased told them he was shot near Forest Mall but his car was retrieved from around UMA, so that is what we are trying to piece together.