Kampala-. Mourners yesterday paid tribute to Dr Catherine Agaba during a requiem Mass at Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church, Mbuya in Kampala. Tears flowed as the person, who took the first reading, paused several times to wipe away tears that rolled down her cheeks.
The Rev Fr Anthony Kibira, who led the Mass, said it was one of the saddest moments he had ever seen.
“I can tell you sincerely that all funerals are difficult, but this one is more difficult. A medical doctor who has prepared herself to save people’s lives. A doctor, who had a long and bright career just to disappear like this, and later on found dumped in a septic tank? That’s hard to take,” Fr Kibira said.
Dr Agaba, who worked at International Hospital Kampala (IHK), was killed on April 12 and her body found in a septic tank on Monday in Muyenga B Zone, Makindye Division, in Kampala. The police said a former watchman at the premises confessed to killing Dr Agaba for reporting him to his employer for habitual absenteeism from duty.
Fr Kibira challenged the deceased’s family and relatives to seek relief in Jesus Christ saying: “We must proclaim the reality that Jesus Christ lives amid us.”
“Don’t be satisfied with quick answers. In the newspapers, we have given the reason why Dr Agaba was killed that is too cheap. This is not glorification of God, killing is not for glorification of God. I pray for the conversion of heart for that person or those people who robbed Cathy of her life,” Fr Kibira preached.
Dr Michael Oling, the Medical Director of IHK, said the hospital will miss the service of Dr Agaba.
“I have a task of recruiting her replacement, but what I can tell you is that there was only one Cathy. We shall never get another, and getting someone like her will be a huge task for me and my team,” Dr Oling said.
“Dr Agaba was part of the 24 doctors I interviewed for a job at IHK 15 months ago. At the time, we needed only three doctors and Agaba was one of those who made it through. We had identified her as one of the super specialists for the future,” Dr Oling added.
He said it was difficult to carry out the postmortem because the body had decomposed.
Dr Agaba has been a medical officer at International Hospital of Kampala for the last 15 months, working at the Emergency Unit. On April 9, she applied for leave and had promised to spend the Easter holiday with the family members. However, she was killed on April 12, a week before the planned reunion.
Mr Enos Kaviiri, the uncle of the deceased, said seeing his niece’s body removed from the septic tank was the hardest pain to bear.
“I don’t know how I will ever erase the picture of how Dr Cathy was removed from the septic tank. Those of you who knew Dr Cathy, her joyous faced.....…. I don’t know what she did, but her life did not have to end like that,” he mourned.
Joseph Mugabi, a younger brother of the deceased, said he was yet to come to terms with the sad reality that his elder sister is gone. Mugabi, who was supposed to live at Dr Agaba’s residence during the time he was filling application forms for admission to Kyambogo University, was the first to notice her disappearance.
“It’ so sad seeing our sister lying in a coffin in front of us. Our sister did not deserve to die like this,” he said amid sobbs.
Dr Anthony Ekwaro Obuku, the president of Uganda Medical Association, said Dr Agaba’s death has robbed the medical fraternity of a star all admired.
He described Dr Agaba as a young, brilliant, hard working woman full of life and with a promising future. He asked police to release the earlier suspects they had arrested since the culprit has confessed.
“We request the police to immediately release our members and fellow doctors (including Dr Mohammed Hassan Mohammed, Dr Agaba’s boyfriend) following due process (police bond) now that the suspect has been identified, detained and awaits justice.”
“While we commend strongly the Uganda Police Force for taking quick action to bring Dr Agaba’s murderer to book, we implore the police leadership to invest more in prevention and fighting crime rather than tear-gas and similar items that do not necessarily benefit the common Ugandan citizen,” Dr Obuku added.
All mourners poured glowing tribute to Dr Agaba as a youthful doctor who had a promising future and career but whose life and profession was cut short.
Mr Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, said Agaba’s death was unfortunate and police would expedite the investigations to ensure the accused is taken to court this week. He said the suspect recorded an extra-judicial statement at Makindye Chief Magistrate’s Court, which will be used to prosecute him.
“We are going to investigate and we know by the end of the week, he will be taken to court. We shall do everything to ensure that justice is served,” He said.
Mr Onyango said the police are investigating the link between the watchman who confessed and the suspects arrested earlier. He said if they are found to have connection, they will also be prosecuted.
Agaba’s remains will be laid to rest at her parents’ home in Kagongi Village, Kashari in Mbarara today.