Police intensify hunt for 'pastor' who vanished with over 20 followers

This photo taken on May 23, 2022 shows the 'pastor' Samuel Kalibala's home at Naama Village in Mityana Municipality where his followers used to convene for prayers before they went to a secret location on May 17, 2022. Kalibala and several of his followers are reported missing. PHOTO/JESSICA NABUKENYA

What you need to know:

  • On May 23, 2022, police said “three accomplices of Pastor Kalibala who helped transport the victims to a secret location have been arrested."



Police in Mityana District have intensified a hunt for a 'pastor' who reportedly vanished with several of his followers a week ago.

According to close relatives and friends, 'pastor' Samuel Kalibala asked about 20 of his followers to leave their homes for an undisclosed location as "God spoke to him that the world will soon come to an end- and they had to abandon their homes."

Mr Sulait Kintu, a resident of Mityana Municipality said his wife Jessica Namuwaya went missing on May 17 together with their five children.

But before that, Mr Kintu observed that his children had started rejecting school.

“During the first week of this term, I gave them fees to go to school, but they refused to go. On May 16, I asked my children why they had refused schooling and they claimed they didn’t want to be vaccinated,” he told this publication.

Mr Kintu added that the children, with their mother, opted for prayers at Kalibala's church the following day and never returned home.

“After spending some days without seeing my children and wife, I went to the home of their pastor but he and his family had also disappeared. This forced me to report the matter to police,” he noted.

On May 23, police spokesperson Fred Enanga disclosed that at least “three accomplices of 'pastor' Kalibala who helped transport the victims to a secret location have been arrested.”

Police named a 53-year-old teacher, a 62 -year-old midwife and an 18-year-old student as apparent collaborators in the incident.

“We are following leads after one of the followers recently established contact with one of her daughters whom she left behind. She immediately switched off the phones and did not reveal her whereabouts,” he said in Kampala.

This photo taken on May 23, 2022 shows resident Grace Nakamatte's home at Naama Village in Mityana Municipality where Pastor Kalibbala's followers occasionally prayed from before they vanished on May 17, 2022. PHOTO/JESSICA NABUKENYA

 Mr Enanga faulted Kalibala “for not being transparent in his methods of work and for using his ‘divine powers’ to control his followers.”

Mr Badru Kavuma, the chairperson of Naama Village expressed worry that the missing pastor might be a dangerous cult.

“They pray at night in a banana plantation and once you join their faith, the clothes which you put on when going to pray are put on fire,” he told Monitor.

Bishop Augustus Kasigwa, the chairperson of the National fellowship of Born Again Churches for Mityana District said he knew Kalibala as a teacher but not a pastor.

“He could be a beneficiary of the loopholes we have in our structures where anyone can wake up and call him/herself a pastor,” he observed.

*This website could not independently verify if the self-proclaimed pastor and his followers were still alive by press time. 

Past incident

On March 17, 2000, at least 700 people died in Kanungu District after their cult leaders locked them inside a church and set it on fire.

The dead were members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, a doomsday cult led by Joseph Kibwetere who believed that the world would come to an end at the turn of the millennium.

To date, whereabouts of Kibwetere remain a mystery and it is not clear whether he is dead or alive.

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