Fresh details emerge on killing of Joan Kagezi 

Four Joan Kagezi murder suspects in the court dock on November 6, 2023. Photo | Abubaker Lubowa

What you need to know:

  • According to the crime report, the three suspects met at Kibuuka’s home where he gave them a briefing of the plot at around midday. After the briefing, they  allegedly agreed to set off for the mission at 1pm before the meeting was dispersed.

The four suspected killers of a senior prosecutor Joan Kagezi were reportedly promised $200,000 (about Shs775m) to execute a mission where they allegedly shot her to death near a grocery store at Kiwatule, a Kampala suburb. 

New details disclosed in the annual crime report, however, indicate that each of the four suspects allegedly received Shs500,000.

Kagezi was gunned down by armed men on March 30, 2015. This was reportedly a retaliatory action following her consistency in prosecuting suspects accused of terrorism. 

The four suspects—John Kibuuka, Daniel Kisekka, John Masajjage and Nasur Mugomole—were arrested eight years later after the offence was committed. They were produced in court on charges of terrorism and murder before being remanded to prison on November 6, 2023.

One of the suspects, who had earlier been remanded on another criminal offence, is said to have let slip details of the mission to kill Kagezi to his fellow inmates. The information was leaked to operatives of Internal Security Organisation (ISO) in the criminal justice system and then it was followed up, leading to further arrests.

Last year, while announcing the arrest of the suspects, President Museveni thanked ISO and the police.  

How the planning unfolded 
According to the police report, the planning of the murder of Kagezi started around early March 2015 when Kibuuka contacted Kisekka, Masajjage and Mugomole for a mission. 

The four suspects allegedly met at Mambule stage, Kisalosalo in Kawempe Division, and agreed to participate in the crime. The police report states that they proceeded to Kibuuka’s home in Kyebando, Kawempe Division, for a detailed briefing.

At Kibuuka’s home, the host reportedly informed the trio that he wanted them to execute an operation where Kagezi was a target. The report claims that he accused Kagezi of “harassing” Muslims she was prosecuting in court. Kibuuka allegedly promised to give the suspects $200,000 (Shs775m) for execution of the plot, if they accepted.

Police investigators say it is not yet clear where the orders and funding to carry out the mission came from. Investigators suspect that members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) contacted Kibuuka to carry out the crime.

Kibuuka allegedly told his co-accused that he had been given Shs2m as deposit for the mission.

“Each of the four suspects received Shs500,000,” the report states. 

Police investigators claim that the suspects were promised that they would receive the balance upon execution of the mission. Kibuuka also reportedly provided them with two AK47 rifles that they would use in the plot.

“On the same day, using Nasur Mugomole’s motorcycle, Kisekka and Mugomole took the guns to his home in Kanyanya for cleaning and safe custody,” the police report states.

The guns reportedly remained there until the fateful day,  March 30, 2015.

Kagezi’s last moments
According to the crime report, the three suspects met at Kibuuka’s home where he gave them a briefing of the plot at around midday. After the briefing, they  allegedly agreed to set off for the mission at 1pm before the meeting was dispersed.

The report states that at 6pm, they met under a mango tree at Kisalosalo in Kyebando where they shared the deposit for the mission. Each reportedly received Shs500,000 before they set off to Kiwatule using two motorcycles.

“The four moved from Kyebando to Kiwatule via Ntinda. Masajjage was carrying Kibuuka while Mugomole rode with Kisekka. The suspects arrived at Kiwatule at around 6:30pm and lay in wait at a nearby supermarket,” the report states.

At 7pm, Kagezi drove her official vehicle to a grocery store where she was a frequent customer. Unbeknown to Kagezi, her killers  were on the prowl. Kagezi remained in her vehicle as she summoned a grocery seller to come and attend to her.

Kibuuka allegedly used that moment to walk to the car doorway, obstructing her from opening the door before shooting her several times.

“He peeped inside the vehicle to confirm that his victim, Kagezi, was dead,” the report states, and indeed she was.

Kisekka reportedly then discharged a bullet in the air that forced the people who were around to scatter and flee.

The report states that this created an escape route and the hit squad fled the scene on motorcycles.

“The suspects fled the scene via Najjeera back to Kanyanya. At Kanyanya, Kisekka and Mugomole deposited the guns. They also changed clothes. But Masajjage and Kibuuka disappeared only to return to meet their accomplices the next day,” the report indicates.

Accounts of witnesses 
During the shooting, witnesses claimed  to have managed to catch a glimpse of Kibuuka’s face despite him wearing a hood. There was unanimity about his light complexion. They even helped the police experts to draw his image, which was circulated countrywide.

At the crime scene, investigators later recovered two cartridges of a bullet from an AK47 rifle. 

Investigators suspect that Kibuuka made an additional payment to his three colleagues although the amount is not yet clear. The report states that the suspects then dispersed after the crime, only to meet three days later.

Three days later, Kibuuka, Kisekka and Mugomole allegedly travelled to a shrine owned by one Olowo at Namabugo at Kitimbwa where they underwent a cleansing ritual. The suspects are said to have returned to their normal life, but often participated in gun-related crimes. They would be arrested in different criminal cases not related to Kagezi murder and convicted.

Kibuuka was jailed in Kigo Prison while Mugomole and Masajjage were jailed in Kitalya on unrelated criminal cases. Kisekka remained roaming free.

It is alleged that it was in the prisons that one of the suspects revealed the details about the killing of Kagezi and the information was obtained by ISO operatives, who shared with their counterparts leading to their arrest and charging.

The four suspects are still on remand awaiting trial.

About Joan Kagezi
Joan Kagezi,  born on July 14, 1967, was a Ugandan lawyer and prosecutor. She was assassinated on March 30, 2015 in Kiwaatule, a Kampala suburb, on her way home.

At the time of her death, she was the assistant director of public prosecution and head of the International Criminal Division in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.

Throughout her 23-year career as an attorney, Kagezi served as a public servant with the government. Straight out of the Law Development Centre in 1992, she secured a position as land officer in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

In May 1994, she was appointed a state attorney in the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. She received a promotion in February 2002 to principal state attorney.

In August 2007, she was promoted to senior principal state attorney. In January 2015, she was appointed head of the International Crimes Division, at the rank of assistant director of public prosecutions.

How crime was executed – police report