What you need to know:
- A Parliamentary committee that probed the massacre ruled that there was laxity on the part of police because prior to the deaths, there was a complaint by residents that was not followed through by the security agencies.
- About the cult: The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God sprung up in the 1980s after breaking away from the mainstream Roman Catholic Church.
Kampala. A new book that seeks to lift the lid off the mysterious massacre of more than 1,000 people in a church in Kanungu District reveals that Joseph Kibwetere took advantage of the HIV/Aids scourge to lure unsuspecting victims to their doomsday.
The Kanungu Tragedy, authored by Fr Narcisio Bagumisiriza, reveals that the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, a religious cult, which was accused of the deaths in an inferno in 2000, used the raging Aids pandemic to warn of an end to the world.
Speaking at the launch of the book at Christ the King Church in Kampala on Friday, Fr Bagumisiriza said the whereabouts of Joseph Kibwetere, the mysterious leader of the cult, remain unsolved and it’s unclear whether he is dead or alive.
“He took advantage of HIV/Aids that was a big problem in society to justify his argument that it was a punishment from God to sinners as the world came to an end,” Fr Bagumisiriza said.
“During my research, I found out that some journals published wrong information insinuating that the Kanungu incident was suicide. The dead were set ablaze by Kibwetere. He had promised his flock that the world would end on December 31, 1999,” he added.
A Parliamentary committee that probed the massacre ruled that there was laxity on the part of police because prior to the deaths, there was a complaint by residents that was not followed through by the security agencies.
The report by Parliament’s Defence Committee indicated that the police, acting on a complaint from a citizen about dubious activities being carried out by the Joseph Kibwetere group, curiously flagged off the sect as an NGO.
Rattled by how Kibwetere managed to disguise his activities, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda yesterday said the government was forced to amend the NGO Act in the wake of the Kanungu massacres.
“Let us not take things for granted. What happened 16 years ago can still happen today. Let us still play our role of coming together for worship but look at each other. Be vigilant so that masqueraders like Kibwetere are exposed,” Dr Rugunda said.
Preliminary investigations by the police at the time indicated that the killings were well planned by the cult leaders after it apparently became clear that the world was not going to come to an end at the turn of millennium. For instance, on March 24, two mass graves containing 153 bodies were found at a cult compound in Kalingo, 45 km to the west of Kanungu. Some had been dead for more than four months.
Ms Adyeeri Omara, the Delight Uganda Ltd chief executive officer, bought the first book at Shs200,000 while Dr Rugunda bought five books at Shs1 million. The official price of the book is Shs25,000.
Cult leaders: Fr Dominic Kataribabo.According to a March 2000 BBC report, Fr Kataribabo left the US in 1987, after earning a degree in religious studies from Loyola Marymount University, one of America’s top Roman Catholic colleges. Fr Kataribabo also had a degree from Makerere University and was rector of Kitabi Seminary where he was known as a good counsellor, the BBC reported.Little is known about Angelina Mugisha, who was also among the cult leaders.
Born 1952 in Kanungu at Kateete, Nyabugoto, Mwerinde was the high priestess and co-founder of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments. She was born in a village where Kibwetere’s camp was located. Among the followers of the cult, she was referred to as the ‘programmer’. She is reported to have first contacted Kibwetere in 1989.
About the cult: The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God sprung up in the 1980s after breaking away from the mainstream Roman Catholic Church. The focus of the preaching by the group was that to avoid apocalypse [end of the world], believers had to strictly follow the Ten Commandments. Cult leaders preached that the world would come to an end in the year 2000.