Sorrow and an overwhelming wave of an entire community’s collective hurt swept through Kitwekyanyovu village, off Masaka-Mbarara highway as the late Andrew Felix Kaweesi was laid to rest. The death of this village’s most prominent son, and benefactor, had delivered a stunning blow.
The former police spokesperson completed his journey on earth as his casket was lowered into the grave in the late afternoon. It was an emotional moment as thousands of mourners wept inconsolably.
Mass was supposed to have started at 10am but it was postponed to midday to accommodate the day’s shifting programme. It was led by the Masaka diocesan Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa. Bishop Kaggwa described Kaweesi as a man of faith.
“He has always been there for the Church and the good Lord will reward him for the good deeds,” he said
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima took the first reading while Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Director, Grace Akullo took the second reading. The former assistant inspector general of police was spoken of in glowing terms. His passion for work and professionalism celebrated in equal measure.
“My husband has always been there for me. Kaweesi had great passion for serving police, Uganda and pursued the same dream up to the end,” the widow, Annette Kaweesi, said as tears streamed down her face.
The widow, who sat stoically throughout the requiem mass at the village home, thanked everybody who has stood with the family during the trying period. She asked her fellow mourners to pray for her
It was a send-off befitting a man who had become the second most recognisable face in Uganda’s police. But there was still not enough time to fit everything that had been planned as a final goodbye.
As the priests performed the last rites, and family, friends and politicians extolled Kaweesi’s virtues in life, VIPs who arrived after midday were forced to occupy improvised seats in front of the casket and braved the scorching afternoon sunshine. The tent that had been set up for the high and mighty was stuffed to the seams with notables.
Mr Vincent Musubire Kityamuwesi, the man who had been the deceased’s guardian, spoke about how his adopted son’s young ones needed prayers now more than ever before.
“Your coming here is a real manifestation that you loved Kaweesi and us as a family. Please pray for this family throughout these trying moments,” he said
The police chief, Gen Kale Kayihura again said Kaweesi ’s demise is a big blow to the Force.
“Kaweesi was very instrumental in our operations and his immense contribution will always be remembered by the Police Force,” he said.
Gen Jeje Odongo, the Internal affairs minister who represented government, thanked the deceased’s parents for bringing up Kaweesi well - which made him such a celebrated police officer. He urged every mourners to learn a lesson from his untimely death and prepare for life after death.
Government contributed Shs25 million towards burial expenses.
Lwengo District chairman, George Mutabaazi, pointed at the development projects initiated by Kaweesi.
“He has initiated many projects in this area which have improved the lives of our people. We plan, as a district, to name that road which connects to his home and the seed school he has been supporting after him,” he said. Kaweesi was buried next to where his father and mother lay buried.
Before it was lowered, Annette made a gesture of the last goodbye, slowly edging forward and bent over to embrace the coffin. She thereafter broke down and wept uncontrollably as the orphaned children remained close by.
A few minutes past 5pm, the police band played and the Last Post was sounded and then volleys were fired from shiny Type 56 assault rifles in a three-gun salute.
Kaweesi, 43, died in a hail of gunfire on the cold and rainy morning of Friday, March 17, as he left his home in Kulambiro, a Kampala suburb on the northeastern outskirts of the city.
Determined, the assassins riding on motorbikes opened fire with automatic weapons, peppering the Toyota Prado with more than 50 bullets. Kaweesi’s bodyguard, Cpl Kenneth Erau, is reported to have taken the brunt of the attack, being shot more than 30 times as he possibly flung his body between the direct line of fire and his boss.
The body of the driver , Constable Godfrey Mambewa, was also riddled with several bullets. As in life, the three men now repose in death’s endless sleep - together.
Compiled by Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Christopher Kisekka & Andrew Bagala