What you need to know:
- We bring you accounts of survivors of machete attacks in the Greater Masaka area in 2021.
- The attacks, which occured between July and September, claimed 28 lives and left several others with injuries. The attacks brought back ugly memories of similar attacks between 2017 and 2018, which left scores dead.
Mr Ronald Ssebyoto, a resident of Ssetaala Village, Masaka City, is among the people who suffered the wrath of machete-wielding gangs that rocked the Greater Masaka area between July and September 2021.
At around 8pm on August 23, 2021, Mr Ssebyoto says he left Kabonera Trading Centre for home.
On the way, he noticed someone following him.
“I saw someone following me. I stopped and asked him why he was following me and he said he was just going along his way,” Mr Ssebyoto narrates.
But all of a sudden, the stranger attacked.
“As I continued walking, I felt something hit my head. I became dizzy, but managed to run home, but left my shoes at the scene. I later learnt that the same assailants had already killed three other people (Tadeo Kiyimba, Suleiman Kakooza and Francis Kizza Nswa),” he says.
On reaching home, Mr Ssebyoto says his father took him to Masaka Regional Referral hospital to receive treatment.
“I vividly remember the man who attacked me, he was very tall, was wearing black clothes, and wore boots,” Mr Ssebyoto recollects.
He says his family paid medical bills amounting to Shs2m, but when they run out of money, they chose to take him back home.
“We had no money yet the medical bills were accumulating, my father decided to bring me back home. I still feel some pain in the head, but not as serious as it was before,” Mr Ssebyoto says.
“Whenever there is too much sunshine, I feel a little bit dizzy and that is why I wear a cap. My only worry is that the pain in my head may become permanent because I did not complete the treatment as prescribed by medics,” he adds.
He also accuses the government of not helping the survivors.
“I thought the government would come out and support us, but this has not been the case,” he laments.
One time, Mr Ssebyoto says, he received a telephone call, informing him of a meeting at Golf Lane Hotel, Masaka.
The meeting had been convened by Mr George Mutabaazi, the former Lwengo District chairperson who was at the time mobilising families of victims of the attacks to go and meet President Museveni at State House, Entebbe. Each of the 25 families received Shs10m from Mr Museveni.
“On reaching the hotel, I was locked outside. I felt very bad because I thought I was going to get some money from the President to enable me to get more medication,” he says. Mr Vincent Ssewajje, the father of Mr Ssebyoto and also chairperson of Setaala Village, wonders why the government chose to support families of those who lost their loved ones and left out the survivors.
“I spent a lot of money clearing medical bills for my son, which I borrowed from my friends. When we heard that the government was going to give us money, we calmed down because we knew all the debts were going to be cleared, but we were not considered,” he says.
Greater Masaka area has been a hotspot of mysterious killings over the last 10 years. In June 2009, 14 murders were registered in Greater Masaka and they were attributed to contract killers. The hackings ceased, but emerged in 2013 in Rakai District where families were attacked and hacked to death. Investigations were not conclusive. Again in 2018, another group hacking people emerged in the area.