Lives we lost: 30-year-old asked for mercy in vain


What you need to know:

  • When the soldier saw that his order had not been obeyed, he opened fire and shot the LDU. Then, he turned the gun on Walungama.

In the last instalment of this series, we chronicle how bullets prematurely shattered the blooming dreams of dozens during two days of madness last November. In interviews with our reporter, Gillian Nantume, grieving families and friends share the triumphs, travails and final moments of relatives in a way that offers insights into the lives of victims hitherto treated as statistics.

GRACE WALUNGAMA

The 30-year-old father of one was a mechanic at a garage in Rubaga Division, Kampala City.
His brother, Mr Benjamin Nanfumba, says Walungama  “was a jolly man who divided his time between the garage, the football pitch, and his church – Liberty Workshop Centre Church.”
Walungama’s boss, Mr Francis Ssempijja, narrates how his employee met his death.

“When the rioting began, we were all working in the garage. As the chaos intensified, we went to see what was happening on the road. People were burning tyres but since we were busy, we soon returned to the garage and locked the gate. Walungama was working on a car,” Mr Ssempijja says.
At 4pm, three security personnel – a soldier and two LDU personnel – came and ordered the mechanics to open the gate.

“We refused and they went away. By 6pm, most of us had finished our work for the day. Some of the mechanics had already left, while others were cleaning up. The gate was still locked, but the rioting had since stopped. People were moving on the road again and shops were open. Then, the three men returned,” Mr Ssempijja says.

This time, they did not request the mechanics to open the gate. They forced it open. “When they broke the padlocks, we all ran out in different directions. Walungama was the last one in the garage.”

A colleague, who does not want to be named, says he hid in the shop opposite the garage and they closed one part of the door. “It was getting dark. Since he could not get past them, Walungama went down on his knees and begged them to spare him. The soldier turned to one LDU and told him to shoot Walungama. The LDU did not move. Instead, Walungama turned to him, lifted his hands and begged him, saying, ‘Emma tonkuba (Loosely translated as: Emma, do not shoot me).’

Walungama and Emma, the LDU operative, knew each other. When the soldier saw that his order had not been obeyed, he opened fire and shot the LDU. Then, he turned the gun on Walungama.

“He shot him in the hands and Walungama begged him to stop there. Instead, he shot him in the stomach, and then, in the left temple,” the colleague says.
Walungama was buried in Kitunga Village, Wakiso District. No government official has visited the family to help them find justice.

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