Mayor Geoffrey Byamukama narrates ordeal
In the early afternoon of Friday, May 19, nine of the 30 MPs on the Human Rights Committee of Parliament visited Nalufenya Police Station to investigate cases of torture at the detention facility. One of the 21 suspects the MPs interacted with during the six hours they spent at Nalufenya was Geoffrey Byamukama, the mayor of the western town of Kamwenge. Byamukama who is accused of being one of the architects of former Police Spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi’s assassination on March 17 explained to the MPs in a 29-minute interview how he ended up at Nalufenya, writes Ronald Musoke.
Byamukama’s anguish began in the afternoon of April 5 inside the Ministry of Lands offices on Parliamentary Avenue in Kampala. He was approached by two men who said they were police officers with orders to arrest him. He tried to protest but they assured him he was in “safe hands.”
The men grabbed him and yanked away his mobile phone when he attempted to make a call. He pleaded with the men to at least let him call his loved ones but his plea fell on deaf ears. Outside the Lands offices, three more men and a van were waiting. Byamukama was roughed up and bundled into the van which immediately sped off.
One of the men said, ‘At least we have got you now.’
“We don’t want anything. We only want you to confess that you were part of the people who killed Kaweesi and you were there physically, so we want that gun. I asked for time to explain to the men who I am and where I come from (but) one of the officers barked; “Don’t talk unless you say ‘yes’.”
I thought what I was experiencing was a joke (but) two men seated at the back of the van started slapping me. I also heard another officer tell unidentified people in Luganda to do their work. “Tomorrow your bull will be there. I was totally confused.”
If you answer ‘yes’ and you point us to that money, we shall leave you and we shall even take you somewhere.” I was confused by what was going on. I told the men that rather than “damage” me, and since you have guns, you should instead shoot me dead.
My head was then covered with a black polythene bag (kaveera). Two men seated at the back slapped my ears. At first, it felt like I had stopped breathing. The second slap made me feel like my eardrums had burst. I realised things were now serious when they removed the kaveera.
I was then taken to a building in Kampala that I cannot remember. Here, I met another group of men. One man immediately came over to me and said: “If you want to survive, say you participated in the killing of Kaweesi and two; that you sold a chunk of land and you know where the money is.
I asked the men to give me time to explain (but there was no time). Two men handcuffed me and tied my legs so tightly I could hardly move. Then another two men came with batons and an iron bar. Someone who looked like their superior commanded them to remove the “cotter pin.”
The men started hitting my knees and ankles. I screamed but the men continued hitting me. I cried until tears dried up. I could not cry anymore. I started sweating but they continued hitting my knees and ankles. They could stop after a time and then start beating me again. And I was crying all the time. My heart felt like it was hanging. I urinated in my clothes. Then I lost consciousness.
When I regained consciousness, I heard one of the men shouting that I was about to die. Another man said I should be given some water. But another disagreed, saying I would die if I was given water. I was still in handcuffs. They sounded panicky.
They did not resume the torture. Instead, after sometime, they came back and started asking me questions; if I knew a man called Hassan. “I said I know him.” I remembered that Hassan had deserted the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and handed himself over in Kamwenge at the peak of the ADF insurgency.
But before I could explain exactly how I knew Hassan, he was brought to where I was. He was asked whether he knew me and he answered, “Yes, he is the mayor of Kamwenge.”