Police find child skull in fresh search on shrines

Monday August 13 2018
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Mr Owen Ssebuyungo (squatting) one of the suspects directs police during the search in Kayunga District yesterday. PHOTO BY FRED MUZAALE

Kayunga- Security operatives yesterday retrieved a skull of a child when they resumed a search at a witch-doctor’s shrine in Kisoga village, Nazigo Sub-county in Kayunga District where five human bodies were recovered last Saturday.

The main suspect, Mr Owen Ssebuyungo, 27, and three other witch doctors are being held in separate detention centres.

The five bodies, one being of a woman, were dug up by police assisted by residents at Ssebuyungo’s grass-thatched shrine.

The security team resumed the operation at around 2pm although it was interrupted by a downpour.

The residents and police from Kayunga and Naggalama police stations used hoes to dig up the entire compound, which had five shrines, as the suspects watched.

By press time, police had recovered a skull of a child at the shrines, but the excavation was still ongoing.

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More bodies
“We have come back to dig up the entire area because locals told investigators that they think there are still more bodies which were buried in the shrines,” Mr George Obia, Kayunga District Police Commander said.

Police have since Saturday maintained presence at Ssebuyungo’s shrine, which has been declared a scene of crime.

A house belonging to Ssebuyungo’s mother, standing a few metres from the shrines, looked deserted as she reportedly fled after her son’s arrest about a week ago.

Ssebuyungo, according to locals, lived with his wife in Kabimbiri town in the neighbouring Mukono District and only came to his shrines to attend to clients. His father Charles Ssonko, now deceased, was also a witch doctor.

The Local Council One chairman, Mr Bernard Ssekizira, said the discovery of human bodies at the shrine has left the residents in shock.

“Although we had heard rumours that Ssebuyungo was involved in suspicious acts of kidnapping people, we never took it seriously until Saturday when human bodies were discovered at his shrine,” Mr Ssekizira said.
He said the incident has tainted the image of their village, adding that people will start shunning the area.

He urged authorities to investigate activities of all witch-doctors in the area to arrest whoever is engaged in criminal acts.

Following the incident, Kayunga Deputy Resident District Commissioner Yahaya Were said they had stopped all activities of witch doctors in the district until the registered association of traditional healers goes to the district to verify the honest healers from the unscrupulous ones.

Residents in Mukono also told investigators that Ssebuyungo and his accomplices had another shrine in Kiwungi village in Ssi Sub-county, Buikwe District which they abandoned a year ago.

Police did not say whether they would also search the abandoned shrine.
Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said one of the suspects, Wamala, had revealed to police that he often took young girls from his Nansana shrine to Kayunga shrine for offering to the gods.

“We arrested Wamala and while in detention at Naggalama Police Station, he confessed that he ferried eight women to this shrine. At the shrine, we recovered four bodies, a human skull and pots containing blood-like liquids but we suspect there could be more bodies in this shrine,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.

Women murders
He said police had not yet discovered the whereabouts of the said women but highly suspect they were murdered in ritual sacrifice within the shrine premises.

Last week police recovered the body of Allen Nakiyingi, a teacher in Kira Municipality in Wakiso District, buried in her lover’s house in Matugga town, in the same district.

She had gone missing for three weeks. The house in which Nakiyingi’s body was retrieved belonged to her boyfriend’s mother who is also a witch-doctor based in Kayunga District.

Purpose

Confessed: Ssebuyungo told security that they sacrificed human beings to woo many clients to their shrine.
The bodies, which had decomposed beyond recognition, were retrieved from shallow graves and a Shs5,000 note was placed on each of them.
Spears and pots of blood, suspected to have been drawn from human beings, were recovered at the shrine and taken to the Government Analytical Laboratory for investigation.
The bodies were taken to Mulago Hospital for DNA testing.

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