Some of the five suspects arrested on Sunday night during a combined police, army raid have reportedly told interrogators that seven of them were hired and each paid Shs130,000 to kill Maria Nagirinya and Robert Kitayimbwa.
Nagirinya, according to accounts offered by relatives and friends, had hired Kitayimbwa, a boda boda rider who moonlights as driver, to drop her at her parents’ home.
The alleged suspects have reportedly told investigators that they were hired to kill but the motive or their boss was not known.
The duo was brutally killed following their August 28 violent abduction from Lungujja, a city suburb, in a confrontation witnessed by Nagirinya’s sister, Brenda Nakyejjwe, as she opened the gate for the duo to drive into the family residence.
Their bodies were found on an isolated piece of land off Kayunga Road, some six kilometres from Mukono Town.
Details of the ongoing investigations show that the assailants forced their victims to reveal their mobile money account pin codes before snuffing them out.
They, in a brazen display of courage, went ahead to withdraw mobile money off the cellphone handsets of the deceased, another source familiar with the probe intimated.
A detective involved in the investigations said the latest suspects were apprehended from Mabiito Club, off Mabiito Road, in Nateete on Sunday night in an operation led by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
Security operatives cordoned off Mabiito Road at about 11pm and launched a blistering assault on the club, which teems with sex workers, catching merrymakers unawares.
The suspects, two of whom security sources identified by their underworld code names as Baros and Arsenal, tried to sprint away but surrendered under deafening gunfire.
The duo had lived in different parts of the city, according to their testimonies to investigators, hopping from Kitooro in Nateete to Kitaka in Busega Zone and Gogonya in Bulenga.
As fate would have it, Arsenal, whom detectives said is the one captured in a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) camera footage steering late Nagirinya Spacio, registration UBA 570V, was caught clad in the same maroon jacket.
Investigators dug up his crime profile and found that he was released from Luzira Prison only last July. He had been incarcerated over alleged murder of a female mobile money agent in Nateete in 2013.
Mabiito Club where they were arrested from is roughly 500 metres from Nateete Police Station, and close to their hideout in Kitooro Zone in Rubaga Division. 1`
They had reportedly been renting there for a month.
Investigators yesterday took the suspects to reconstruct the scene of crime, but in a departure of regular police practice, hooded them to conceal their identities.
They were driven in a van to Gogonya Zone in Bulenga, where they lately lived in a rented house, and then whisked to Namanve, in Mukono District, where they said they dropped off some clothes they wore on the night they killed their victims.
The five suspects, among them a woman, had since their arrest been kept in an undisclosed place from where security operatives yesterday led them to their hideout in Kitooro Zone. Journalists and onlookers who swarmed the place were kept at bay by armed security personnel as their counterparts conducted a four-hour search.
An investigator said they did not want the media to interfere with their investigations since “the people we have [in custody] confessed to the gruesome killing. We will not show their faces since they are part of the group.”
One detective described material they found in the suspect’s place of abode as “precious evidence”.
The suspects were heavily guarded and were all hooded to conceal their identity. They were driven to and from the scene in a van.
A mob gathered at the scene, lurched forward and hurled insults at police, who pushed them back, demanding to lynch the suspects.
“They deserve to be treated the same way they did to their victims,” one woman, whose name we could not establish, shouted.
Although the bodies of Nagirinya and Kitayimbwa were discovered almost 30 kilometres east of the city, the vehicle in which they drove that fateful night was found abandoned in an open field in Kitooro Zone, close to where they were abducted.
CCTV footage showed that it had prior been driven through Busega, Bweyogerere and Kinawattaka on the eastern side of the city.
A Kitooro Village resident yesterday said in the wee hours of that night of the abduction, she heard a woman screaming. Outside, she saw two vehicles following one another.
“The second vehicle looked like a Prado. A woman and two men emerged from it and removed some people from the (Spacio) vehicle, which was in front. One vehicle later left,” the witness said one condition of anonymity, fearing reprisal by the suspects’ accomplices.
We could not independently verify this account. The arrest on Sunday of a woman among the suspects, however, lends credence to the witness’s narrative that a female was among the gangsters.
Police, after four hours of search, yesterday emerged from the house of the suspects with five envelopes in which they stashed material of evidentiary value.
Residents declined to say if they knew the suspects.