KAYUNGA. Police and military intelligence operatives have arrested a witch doctor and recovered five human bodies from his shrine in Kisoga Village, Nazigo Sub-county, Kayunga District.
The operation was carried out on Saturday by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) operatives and police from Mukono District.
The Naggalama Division police commander in Mukono, Ms Jesca Naawe, identified the suspect as Owen Ssebuyungo aged 27.
He was arrested with three others, all witch doctors.
They were identified as Juniro Kibuuka, Fred Kiiza Semanda and Muhammed Wamala. They were taken to Naggalama Police Station.
]Ms Naawe said the suspects will be charged with murder. She said one of the bodies is of a woman and the rest are of male adults. She said the bodies were dug up from three shallow graves in Ssebuyungo’s grass-thatched shrine.
“Two bodies of males had been buried in one grave, while four others were buried in separate graves but with clothes the deceased were wearing when they met their death,” Ms Naawe explained.
“The entire shrine where the graves were located had been cemented and we had to dig up the concrete to recover them,” she added.
Each body was buried with a Shs5,000 note. Police also recovered spears, and pots containing what is suspected to be human blood. Blood samples were picked to be taken to the Government Analytical Laboratory while the bodies, which had decomposed beyond recognition, were taken to Mulago hospital for DNA testing.
Ms Naawe asked the residents, whose relatives went missing, to report to police. She said DNA tests would be carried out on the bodies for the complainants to find out whether the deceased are their relatives.
A military intelligence operative at the scene of crime, who preferred not to be named in order to speak freely, said they had identified one of the bodies to be of a woman Zulayika Nansamba Mirembe from Jinja District. The four other bodies were not readily identified.
A strong stench from the decomposing bodies hang in the air as police and residents dug up the graves. Hundreds of enraged residents were baying for Ssebuyungo’s blood, but were restrained by police.
“Surrender him to us,” the residents yelled in unison but police did not yield.
It is not yet established how the deceased met their death. According to police, four of the bodies had been buried for about a year.
Police and military intelligence operatives raided Ssebuyungo’s shrine on Saturday following a complaint to Naggalama Police Station by relatives of the late Zulayika Mirembe (whose body was recovered from his shrine) after her disappearance in May.
“Mirembe had earlier been arrested by Naggalama police on allegations of stealing a child. But after investigations and DNA test were carried out on both her and the child, it was discovered that Mirembe was the true biological mother and the child was handed over to her,” a military intelligence operative said.
He said later Mirembe, who had befriended an officer at Naggalama Police Station, approached her friend and told him she wanted to get married but had found it hard getting a man because she was always attacked by evil spirits.
“It was at this point that the police officer directed her to Ssebuyungo, whom the police officer had also known because he had interacted with him on two occasions,” the CMI operative said.
It is alleged that Mirembe proceeded to Ssebuyungo’s shrine for assistance. Ssebuyungo is said to have consulted his “spiritual consultant” (one of the detained suspects) who advised him to kill the woman on second visit.
Police said the “spiritual consultant” told Ssebuyungo that he would get a lot of riches if he cut off the head of a woman. The suspects reportedly told police that they welcomed Mirembe to the shrine and waited for nightfall when they cut off her head and buried the body at the shrine.
When Mirembe disappeared in May, her relatives reported a case of kidnap to Naggalama Police Station. Ssebuyungo was arrested but for some unclear reasons, he was released on bond. Mirembe’s relatives petitioned CMI, which rearrested Ssebuyungo.
The military operatives told Daily Monitor on Saturday that when they interrogated Ssebuyungo, he first took them to Mabira Forest saying it is where he had buried Mirembe’s body, but later changed the story and said he had buried her in his shrine.
“We had come to dig out the late Mirembe’s body but we discovered four other bodies,” Ms Naawe said.
Ssebuyungo told investigators at the scene that the bodies were buried in the shrine to help him get more ‘spiritual powers’ and riches.
He, however, said it is his brother-in-law, one of the suspects, who enticed him to sacrifice human beings to win more clients.
Mr Sunday Njuki, the chairperson of Nazigo Sub-county Traditional Healers Association, said he had thrice received ‘bad’ reports about Ssebuyungo and had warned him accordingly.
“These are fake healers who think by sacrificing human beings they can make money,” Mr Njuki said.
The area Local Council II chairperson, Mr Mohammed Kagimu, said Ssebuyungo had previously been arrested twice on similar claims of human sacrifice.
Police have cordoned off the area as the search for more bodies is still going on.
Ritual murder. Acts of human sacrifice have become rampant in the greater Mukono districts of Kayunga, Buikwe and Buvuma.
The most recent incident being of a witchdoctor, Godfrey Kizza, in Kitimbwa Sub-county in Kayunga District, who beheaded Saul Kajura in 2016 and was jailed for life for the ritual murder in March.
The area has also experienced exhumation of human bodies by unknown people and in one incident, 30 bodies were allegedly stolen from two separate graveyards in Kayunga sub-county.
The authorities blamed the incident on witchdoctors who use human remains in anticipation of acquiring healing prowess.