Stories from victims of police brutality put Kayihura, Muhoozi, Museveni on the spot
March 23 started like an ordinary day for Godfrey Musisi, 52, until, out of nowhere, police officers descended on his compound in a Kampala city suburb.
A few hours later, he was a prisoner in the notorious police detention about 80kms away at Nalufenya in Jinja, eastern Uganda. He was being accused of complicity in the murder of Assistant Inspector of Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, his driver, and bodyguard on March 17.
But Musisi, who is now out on bail, insists he is innocent. So how did this man end up being arrested, and tortured, for crime he possibly knows nothing about? And he is not alone.
In cases that have shocked the public and attracted attention of local and international human rights agencies, police has gone on rampage, rounded up people in the hundreds, and tortured many of them to extract confessions.
The Independent has interviewed multiple sources, including victims, and looked at multiple documents to put together the story about Nalufenya, the police detention facility located on the edge of the River Nile crossing bridge in Jinja, which has gained notoriety as a torture chamber. This highly fortified facility is gazetted as a police post (a public facility) but is now called security installation (a no-go area for civilians).
The suspects here, police says, are on charges of terrorism, abetting terrorism, aggravated robbery and murder. Most of those brought here are detained beyond the Constitutional requirement of 48 hours without being produced in court. Many are kept incommunicado for months.
Musisi’s tales of torture, just like that of the 13 suspects who are being tried for the murder of Kaweesi, have been documented by Human Rights lawyer, Laudislus Rwakafuzi. He is representing Musisi in a case against police over violating his constitutional rights.
All of the suspects have been flogged some have been dipped in a drum full of water and their noses, mouths and even anuses have been stuffed with hot pepper.
Musisi knows the inside of the Nalufenya torture chambers quite well. He has been in and out of jail many times.
He narrates a strange story that happened on his first day at Nalufenya during the latest arrest. Apparently about 18 officers were interrogating him when another intelligence operative Musisi had ever worked with, walked in and asked, “So where is the suspect?”
When they pointed at Musisi the new man was surprised.
“Musisi,” he said, “how?”
When he describes his latest arrest, it is not easy to sort fact from embellishment. He says he first heard voices asking his shamba boy, Stewart Ainebyoona, where he (Musisi) was. Then, within seconds, about ten police officers, wearing black bullet proof vests and black uniforms emblazoned with the CT initials of the Counter Terrorism unit, had surrounded him and handcuffed him. Many others could be seen jumping off trucks—they were over 40 altogether, he estimates.
“Where is your wife,” a man holding a gun on his head asked. By the time his wife emerged, some officers had already pushed Musisi into his house. They were turning everything upside down, grabbed everything from small pieces of papers, his old phones and land titles (He hasn’t recovered any of these things weeks after he was released). They searched Musisi’s tenants too.
He says at one point he heard the officer who had pointed a gun at his head telling someone on phone that they had “found some evidence”.
Guns were again pointed at him when he attempted to ask what was going on. “It was as if they were ready to shoot and kill,” he says now. One officer warned him to “be careful with those boys.”
Then he and his wife were bundled onto the police truck and told they were being taken to the Kiira Police Station but, as he noticed the trucks taking the Jinja direction, he realised he was headed for the Nalufenya dungeons.
Musisi says Nalufenya has four detention rooms and the one he was in had 27 detainees. It was dark with no ventilation and a bare floor on which they spread blankets to sleep. He says they ate one meal of posho a day and were allowed only 5 minutes to sun bathe.
Some of the detainees had been in the dungeons for four months, nine months and others a year and a half, he said. Some of them coughed so heavily he feared would contract Tuberculosis.