Why Kayunga is an epicentre of human sacrifice, murders

Thursday March 26 2020

Recovered.  Police at the demolished shrine

Recovered. Police at the demolished shrine where bodies were recovered in Kisoga Village, Kayunga District in September 2018. PHOTO BY FRED MUZAALE 

By FRED MUZAALE

Residents of Kakoola Village, Kitimbwa Sub-County, Kayunga District are recovering from shock they suffered after one of their own was beheaded last week.
Tarsis Mutesasira, 60, was beheaded on March 17 and his head taken by unknown assailants.
Residents discovered Mutesasira’s torso lying in a pool of blood in the bedroom.
A week later, police are still hunting his killers.
On the fateful day, neighbours say the deceased, who lived alone in his small house, spent the entire day in his garden tending to his crops.
Preliminary police investigations indicate that Mutesasira murder was an act of human sacrifice and two traditional healers have since been arrested to help police with investigations.
Both suspects practise their trade in Kitimbwa Sub-county.
Mutesasira’s murder is one of the several acts of human sacrifice cases that have occurred in r Kayunga District about 60kms from Kampala city.
Mr Isaac Mugera, the officer in-charge of the criminal investigations in Kayunga District, says they do not know why Kayunga continues to register many cases of murders linked to human sacrifice.
He, however, says the big concentration of traditional healers in the district could be the cause of such increasing acts.
“There are more than 200 traditional healers in this district and our preliminary investigations revealed that many are fake, which could be the reason they engage in unlawful acts,” Mr Mugera says.
He adds: “We have tried to register all the native doctors in the district with a view of weeding out the fake ones but it seems we have not yet succeeded.”

Similar incident
Mr Mugera cites a September 2018 incident when traditional healer Owen Ssebuyungo, 27, a resident of Kisoga Village in Nazigo Sub-county, Kayunga District was arrested on charges of human sacrifice. Security operatives recovered five bodies from his shrine. The bodies were recovered from shallow graves each containing a Shs5,000 note.
The suspect is on remand at Luzira prison and hearing of the case at Mukono High Court is ongoing.
Mr Mugera adds that given the strategic location of the district, wrongdoers from Nakasongola, Kamuli, Luweero, Mukono and other neighbouring districts find it easy to hide in the area and commit such heinous acts.
“It is surprising that many people go to traditional healers when they fall sick, even when their ailments can be treated by medical personnel,” he says.
Mr Mugera reveals that since this year began, police have recorded a total of nine murder cases.
He, however, explains that two of these are suspected to have been acts of human sacrifice.
Last year, a total of 35 murder cases were registered in the area while 29 murder cases were recorded in 2018.
“As police, we have been successful in prosecuting the suspects in most of these cases because there is overwhelming evidence to pin them,” Mr Mugera notes.
Mr Tom Sserwanga, the Kayunga District chairperson, says acts of human sacrifice are rampant in the greater Mukono area that includes Buikwe, Mukono, and Buvuma districts.
“Many people in these districts believe in witchcraft and when they fall sick, they go to witch doctors for treatment,” Mr Sserwanga says.
According to the 2013 Child Sacrifice and Mutilations report, one child is sacrificed every week compared to the seven cases of child sacrifice reported to Uganda Police in 2011. The report adds that people carry out human sacrifice seeking wealth and fortune, among others.
The Kayunga District traditional healers’ association chairperson, Mr Badru Ssemisambwa, however, dismisses the claims that traditional healers are involving in acts of human sacrifice.
“No genuine traditional healer can kill a person. Those who murder people are fake and only masquerade as healers to make money,” Mr Ssemisambwa says.
He says they have in the past three years cooperated well with police to arrest and prosecute quack traditional healers but many others keep joining the trade.
“We are planning a fresh registration of all traditional healers and those without proper documents will be arrested and prosecuted,” Mr Ssemisambwa says.

Way forward
The Kayunga Resident District Commissioner, Ms Kikomeko Mwanamoiza, says they are working with local leaders and security organs to wipe out the vice.
Ms Mwanamoiza expressed concern over the rampant acts of human sacrifice in the area, adding that there is need to sensitise residents.
“ It is a pity that a big number of people spend most of their time visiting shrines and some are forced to part with their hard-earned money in the name of pleasing their gods,” she says.

Background
Call for regulation. The number of traditional healers who engage in criminal acts are increasing by the day, not only in Kayunga but in other districts too. Several local leaders in many districts in central region have on several occasions urged Parliament to regulate activities of traditional healers, accusing many of duping their gullible clients.
Jailed. The High Court sitting in Mukono in 2018 handed a 40-year jail term to a man and his daughter-in-law after finding them guilty of human sacrifice.
In February last year, police in Luweero District with the help of residents stormed shrines belonging to a prominent traditional healer in Butiikwa Village, Kikyusa Sub-county in Luweero District and set nine of the ablaze, after he was accused of killing a resident in a suspected ritual murder.
When police confronted the traditional healer in a bid to search his shrines, he put up strong resistance but was overpowered.
Police found a mutilated human body and hundreds of human bones from eight shallow graves.
During interrogation at police , the suspect said his accomplices took a adult male to his shrine for ritual sacrifice.
In March 2018, police recovered a headless body dumped at Kalongo Miti Cell, Kizito Zone in Luweero Town Council.

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