Uganda: Missing persons: Families narrate arrest ordeals

Mamos Media

By Derrick Wandera

By Daily Monitor

Dozens of families are claiming that their members have been abducted by security agencies and are being held incommunicado while their searches for them have yielded nothing. In personal accounts below, parents and spouses tell a story of their loved ones being grabbed in their sight by armed individuals spotting military fatigues. 

Hawking freedom of missing man

Juliet Sanyu, sister of Moses Mbabazi, 30

 Our family only got to know about the disappearance of my brother a month after he vanished on December 8, 2020. 

When we tried to search around, they told us that he had been taken to Makindye Military barracks, but he was later transferred to Bombo Military barracks. All the people that have said they would help have been asking for money so that he can be released. 

First, they asked for Shs3m, but as the family, we did not have [the money]. Another asked for Shs150, 000 which we gave. This has been the trend, but [the opposition] National Unity Platform (NUP) has not yet asked for any money from us so far. 

His family and wife are languishing in Kampala. We don’t know how to help because we are also financially strained. Many people have defrauded us under the pretext of helping us. We hope that the government can help us and give him back to us because we know he had not committed any offence.

Wife delivers, but father missing

Florence Nabakooza, wife of Shafiq Wangolo


My husband disappeared on December 3, 2020, from around Kisenyi (in Kampala) where he had gone to work. It is hard to tell whether he is still alive although some people have indicated to me that he is being held in Kitalya Prison. 

[Ms Nabakooza could not explain if the husband was formally charged in court before being remanded to prison, which would be the procedure – Editor]. My husband left me pregnant and now our new-born is two-months-old, but life has increasingly become hard to take care of the three children.

I am unable to pay for the accumulating rent arrears since he disappeared. I appeal to the government that if they have him, why can’t they release him since the election time has already passed.

Husband’s arrest drives wife to village

Zaina Kindu, wife of  Geoffrey Mutalya, 27


I have not set my eyes on my husband since his arrest three months ago in Kalangala where they had gone for campaigns in December.  Prior to his arrest, we had a new-born baby who had developed complications in the brain and we went to the hospital to get medication. They billed us Shs140, 000 but before we cleared them, he was arrested but I struggled and paid. 

Another fresh bill of Shs850, 000 was slapped onto us and I couldn’t handle it this time around. Mr Robert Kyagulanyi’s team reached out and cleared [the bill]. Ibut now the accumulating rent arrears have become huge. I can no longer stay in the house.

I went to the village to make sure that I don’t get so much stressed, but that has not helped because the baby’s condition keeps worsening. That has been the life I have led since the arrest of my husband.

Abducted from polling station
Harriet Bukirwa, wife of Emmanuel Bazira, 37

“My husband was arrested on Election Day at Bwere Primary School Polling Station in Mpigi District. Since he was a polling agent of one of the candidates, after vote-counting, it started raining and they took shelter in one of the classes. 

Eyewitnesses told me that two plain-clothed men kept an eye on him and when he jumped on his motorcycle to return home, the ‘drone’ (van) came by and men wearing black clothes came out and grabbed him and took him in.

That is the last time we heard about him. We have never seen him again. His phones were on for some time, but afterward, they were switched off. I have been moving from one (police station) and prison to another looking for him but in vain. 

I am struggling to raise our six children and since he was the breadwinner at home, life has become devastatingly hard. The police say they don’t have him; so, we don’t know whether he is dead or alive.

Mutwe’s mum aims at Museveni

Jane Nantumbwe, 62


As a mother, it hurts that a fellow parent decides to take our children into custody for no reason. We have cried and we still cry that they should bring back our children. We have been all depending on these children and Eddy is my only hope. Supporting (former presidential candidate Robert) Kyagulanyi (aka Bobi Wine) is not a crime because we supported him (President Museveni) when he was in power.

President Museveni is a parent like me and many of the people who are crying before you are human beings. These tears are not going in vain and I know God will be answering them very soon.

Sent on wedding errand, abducted

 Solome Nakibuuka, mother of Denis Matovu, 23

My son Matovu was abducted from Konge-Lukuli in Makindye West near Kampala on December 8, 2020. He was in the company of his friend, Mr Richard Sonko, 24, who was taken together with him. He was not very active in politics, but he would once in a while participate in their activities. We stay in Busabala in Wakiso District.

On the day of his arrest, I was preparing for my wedding on December 19, 2020. So, I had sent him to do some cleaning at home which he did before he went to meet a lawyer in Lukuli from whom he expected to get a job. I was told that at the scene of his arrest, a couple of women were putting up President Museveni’s posters and they had engaged in a verbal exchange with the owners of the place on whether to put them up or not. 

It is at that time that the ‘Drone’ (van) car drove by and unluckily for my son and his friend, it found them there. That is how they were taken.

Ssenfuma’s twins died in his absence

Mwajuma Nassejje, wife of Issa   Ssenfuma, 32

Many things have happened since the abduction of my husband Issa Ssenfuma on December 3, 2020 which in my view would have been avoided if he had been around. We lost our pair of twins and I have since been dragged out of the house that we were renting.  I am now staying in someone’s workshop with my three children and many nights we go without food or and water.

My husband was arrested around Makindye on charges that I have never known. I was only informed that he has since been transferred from one prison to the other, the most current being Kitalya Prison (in Wakiso District). I had chosen to give up the chase since I had a function of the wedding, but I later resumed (the search).

But all these have been in vain. I have been unsuccessful on all fronts and I don’t know where to run to.

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