By the independent team
In war, it is called a kill zone. A pre-selected area into which an enemy is lured before being mowed down. Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Grace Turyagumanawe’s carefully selected kill zone for opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader Rtd. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye was the compound of the Chieftaincy of Military Police (CMI) opposite the Mulago National Referral Hospital on Kitante Road in Kampala.
The brazen manner in which this torture chamber sits right next to a major road junction on the edge of an upscale residential and service neighbourhood speaks volumes about the impunity of President Yoweri Museveni’s government in abusing human rights. The CMI chambers are close enough to the public not to be missed but carefully hidden behind neat rows of corrugated iron barricades to ensure its dark secrets are kept.
Until last year, there was a taxi stage for visitors to Mulago Hospital. The stage was removed. Today, civilians do not dare stare too long at the shiny corrugated aluminum-sheets hiding CMI’s dark secrets. That is the place to which Turyagumanawe systematically lured Besigye on April 28.
It all started at 6:41 when Besigye set out from his home in Kasangati about 10km from Kampala along the Gayaza Highway for his now famous Walk-to- Work protest. Police officers, who were camped outside his gate blocked him and said he could not walk. It was later agreed that Besigye, who needed to visit a bank in Wandegeya, a city suburb, could drive there in his car.
Besigye arrived in the Wandegeya area at 7:54am and was at a roundabout just 500 metres to the bank when Turyagumanawe ordered him to switch routes and take a longer detour. Turyagumanawe said the route Besigye was taking was too busy. After a 45-minute stand-off, Besigye complied. The route Turyagumanawe forced him on would take him to Wandegeya. Sinisterly, however, and at that point of not much significance, the route also led to CMI headquarters at Mulago.
At 8:14 am when Besigye reached the Mulago roundabout outside CMI, a police patrol truck cut off his route to Wandegeya. You cannot go to Wandegeya, Turyagumanawe told him. Take this route and that is a police order, he said, pointing to Kitante Road which led to the heart of the city and even bigger crowds. There is no way Turyagumanawe would encourage Besigye to enter the city Central Business District. Most likely, he was luring Besigye to the CMI gate which was just 10 metres away. It is unclear if Besigye sensed the ploy. But he refused to go down that road – until he was forced to – in the most brutal manner that shocked the world at 10:26 am.