By The Independent Team
In our continuing series ‘Terror Arrests’, we report the arrest of The Independent Managing Editor, Mr Andrew Mwenda.
On the morning of Saturday April 26 this year, as The Independent’s managing editor drove from his home along Golf Course Road in Kololo, two suspicious cars, one in front and another behind his, drove towards him at breakneck speed. As he tried to make sense of the two cars, suddenly three other cars appear from behind, one knocking his rear bumper.
Before he could do anything, a swarm of security operatives had surrounded the car and one of them, a young light-skinned man, was frantically trying to open the door but unfortunately it was locked from inside.
Embarrassed, he pulled out a gun, pointed it at Mwenda and ordered him to get out of the car. Hardly had he opened the door when the security operatives pounced on him, forcefully pulled him out of the car, confiscated his phones, watch and car before dumping him into a waiting car and driving off in a heavily defended convoy at breakneck speed.
There were no witnesses around, Mwenda narrated his ordeal. I realised the state wanted me to disappear without a trace. At that point, he says, he tried to open the car window and shout out to anybody who would hear how he had been kidnapped but the security operatives pulled him back and handcuffed him so he wouldnt cause more trouble.
Then, as Mwenda tells the story, he was driven towards the airstrip, where he saw a waiting military helicopter that had just landed there and many PGB soldiers guarding the place and he began thinking whether President Yoweri Museveni himself had ordered to see him but wanted him to arrive to him with intimidation, or worse still that the helicopter was maybe intended to take him to Gulu and kill him from there. But luckily for him, the convoy, now made up of six cars including his, drove past the airstrip and went around Kololo for 20 minutes before driving back to his house.
There, the Ag. Head of the Media and Political Desk at CID Headquarters Charles Kataratambi, arrived and ordered the operatives to get him off handcuffs and handed him a search warrant saying he, Kataratambi, and the operatives wanted to search his house for seditious materials that was in his possession.
But Mwenda’s high-handed arrest is not an isolated incident and while not exactly carbon copy, its a method, brutal as is it is, that security agencies, and especially sections of the army, had tried on their other targets long before Mwenda became victim.