One year later, family of slain Nagirinya seek answers  

Monday September 14 2020
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Maria Nagirinya and her driver Ronald Kitayimbwa were abducted and killed

By Rashim Nabanja

Towards the end of August 2019, Uganda was shocked by the abduction and murder of young woman and her driver.

Maria Nagirinya and her driver Ronald Kitayimbwa were abducted on Wednesday August 28, 2019, and later found dead on Friday, August 30 ,of the same year and their bodies were found dumped in Nabutiti village in Mukono District.

The brutal killing of the 28-year-old social worker and her driver left many people many questions were left unanswered.  

On NTV’s Mwasuze Mutya morning show hosted by Faridah Nakazibwe, Nagirinya’s father, Mr Francis Lubowa shared with the world what the family went through in the three days that their daughter went missing and how far the police have gone in investigating the case.


The fateful day

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According to Mr Lubowa, it was about 12 am when they received a phone call informing them about Nagirinya’s kidnap.

“Her younger sister was the one that called and told us that she had witnessed Nagirinya alongside her driver being kidnapped by unknown people as she went to open the gate for the approaching car,” he said.

Mr Lubowa said that Nagirinya’s sister tried screaming, making alarms and even chasing after the car but none of the actions got her any positive result or help.

Nagirinya is said to have been coming from visiting a friend who had just given birth in hospital and she had been accompanied by her aunt.

They left the hospital late and Nagirinya claimed she didn’t have the energy to drive, which is when she decided to call the driver to help take her home.

They were three people in the car – the driver, Nagirinya and her aunt. The aunt was dropped off at her home and the two later proceeded to Lungujja where they were abducted as they approached the gate.

Basing on her sister’s narrations, Mr Lubowa says the driver was the first to be captured and put in the boot of the car. Nagirinya was then also pulled out of the front seat and put in the back seat and the car sped off.

The search begins

Mr Lubowa says that immediately after getting the call, he and some family members quickly dressed up and proceeded to the scene where his daughter was said to have been abducted from. They immediately rushed to Kibumbiro Police Station which was the closest to the area.

“The officer at the station was of help but the people she was contacting were not responding, we asked if we could have a look at the CCTV footage and she directed us to Nateete Police Station saying that it is where we could find the footage we needed,” Mr Lubowa said.

When they reached Nateete, they found the police officer on duty asleep and on asking him if they could access the CCTV footage, he said the cameras there were just being tested. He forwarded them to Katwe Police Station.

“On reaching Katwe, we found an officer who tried his best. He went in for 20 minutes to check and came back with a picture from a CCTV footage that he said was from Kinawataka. The picture had a man driving Nagirinya’s car,” he narrates.

This officer too forwarded them to Old Kampala Police Station saying that it had the CCTV cameras that covered areas beyond Kinawataka.

At Old Kampala Station, the officer on duty was deep asleep.  Mr Lubowa said that he woke him up and narrated to him what happened and why he was forwarded there but the officer said the cameras at the station had not been functioning for a while. He even directed me to the room that had the cameras so that I could see for myself if I didn’t believe him,” Mr Lubowa said.

As he was turning to leave, Mr Lubowa said, he saw lights in the room that the officer on duty had pointed them to.

 “When I got there, there were people operating inside although they were asleep. I decided to knock and when they opened, to my surprise, the cameras were operating properly,” Mr Lubowa said.

He went ahead to explain to these officers the situation at hand but they claimed they could not help him because they didn’t know where to start.

“I told them to at least contact the police man that directed me to them so that he could explain why he directed me to them, but they claimed they didn’t have his number,” he said.

Fortunately by this time, one of Nagirinya’s sisters had received the news and was also trying to follow up so by the time Nagirinya’s father and other family members got to Old Kampala Police Station, she was at Katwe Police Station and managed to get the officer’s number and send it over.

This still didn’t help much and they were told to go back to Katwe Police station.

“I kept wondering how a police with patrol cars and motorcycles couldn’t help me in such a situation, we even got a story later on from the security operatives that the kidnappers parked in Kinawataka, Namanve area.

They spent the entire night moving around.

 “I was told to proceed to Jinja Road Police Station but this time round I refused, I didn’t know why they were making us move around yet police is able to coordinate easily,” he said.

Mr Lubowa and his family were then told to head back to Nateete Police Station because it is where they could find the officer that could handle their case.

At the station, the officer on duty gave them specific names of officers at Katwe Police Station that could be of help.

Fortunately, the police officer at Katwe Police Station was helpful so he called the person they had been referred to. He told him he was sick but directed someone else to coordinate the issue.

“We were then set for a meeting at 8 am. It was already morning since we had spent the entire night moving around without any help,” he said.

The officer arrived at around 10 am and suggested they hold a family meeting. By this time, Mr Lubowa was angry and tired and he didn’t see the need to hold a meeting so he got up to leave.

As walked away, he found an officer who advised him to try out the Rapid Response Unit. To his surprise, after explaining his issue to the unit, they acted fast and started using the deceased’s phone to track her down.

After sometime, they got a phone call telling them that they had found Nagirinya’s car and it had been parked not far from Nateete Police station.

By then, the news was already all over the media. And then Mr Lubowa also got a phone call from a certain journalist that claimed he had been called and informed that two bodies had been dumped somewhere in Mukono.

“He told me he was headed to check them out. Later I got a confirmation that it was my daughter and her driver and they had been murdered,” he said.

Police recovered the bodies, took them to Mulago Hospital for postmortem and brought back the body home as the family prepared for the burial.


Suspects detained and investigations begin

“The police kept coming to me about the investigations, how many suspects they had captured, and even the president came in at some point,” said Mr Lubowa.

Six people were detained and they confessed that they had been hired by someone and paid Shs130,000 each, but still refused to confess who exactly hired them.

Mr Lubowa says what kept bothering him is that he was getting information that people had been detained but up to now, he has never really seen the actual man who was driving his daughter’s car that appeared in the picture obtained from the CCTV footage.

 “All the people detained were in their youth and this man in the footage looked a bit grown and muscular,” he said.

Mr Lubowa said that the investigations were eventually paused when he received a visit from an officer who broke the news to him, that it had become impossible to find the person behind the murder as the suspects detained had refused to give any more information about who hired them.

“I couldn’t believe that this investigation couldn’t go beyond phone tracking because that is all the police managed to do,” he said.

A year has passed and the case has never been concluded. No one has been confirmed to be the murderer and the suspects are still on remand.


Postmortem report

The report that came from Mulago Hospital showed that the deceased was badly beaten and her head smashed. Her father says he didn’t even take a last look at his daughter. Her brother had gone over to the hospital to get the body and he advised Mr Lubowa that if he took a look, he wouldn’t be the same again.

Nagirinya’s body was brought home in a sealed coffin.

“I kept wondering what my daughter did to deserve such an act. But I know with God, we will one day get to the bottom of everything. I have faith and I believe that is the best thing,” the deceased’s father concluded.

He hopes that maybe the president will take another step and interfere just to spark investigations because as a father, he would really want to know why his daughter was killed.

“I don’t seek vengeance but all I want is to know the truth behind her death,” Mr Lubowa said.

Her father says Nagirinya was a good and focused daughter who was full of love.

“In every family, there is always that outstanding child and that was Maria for me. She always returned the love I gave her and took my advice about any issue she was facing in life. It reached a point when I was the one taking advice from her,” he said.

Mr Lubowa says he sometimes feels sad when he recalls how his daughter used to pass by his home whenever she was from church just to check on him but he has decided to hand everything over to God.

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