NTUNGAMO — Fresh details have emerged—with eyewitnesses exonerating jailed Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana on the violence that ensued in NRM primaries.
Mr. Rukutana and three of his police bodyguards are charged with attempted murder, assault and malicious damage.
Mr. Rukutana was arrested following a confrontation in Ntungamo which allegedly left a supporter of an opponent injured.
But new evidence by eyewitnesses has indicated that Minister Rukutana who is facing over seven cases including attempted murder, assault and malicious damage was trapped into poll violence in Rushenyi.
According to sources quoted by the CEO Magazine, the violent incident of the morning of September 5th, 2020, is set against the background of electoral malpractices that the Rukutana camp says was visited upon them, robbing them of victory.
There have been counter-accusations by both the Rukutana camp and that of his opponent, Naome Kabasharira both accusing each other of electoral malpractices but without evidence.
However, new evidence indicates that on September 4, 2020, voting did not happen in Rubaare sub-country, one of Rukutana’s stronghold, the Registrar for the area, disappeared with the voters’ register.
As a result, voting for this sub-county was postponed to the next day- Saturday, September 5, reports indicate that this flawed electoral process that has since been challenged by Rukutana camp is the basis for the unfortunate events on the morning of September 5.
It is said that on the fateful date, Rukutana was at his home preparing for prayers after the loss of his mother-in-law. He allegedly sent two of his sons with a motor vehicle- a silver-grey Toyota Fielder (UBH 239F), to pick Rev Canon Peter Rubambura, the retired Archdeacon of Ruhama Archdeaconry in South Ankole Diocese to conduct prayers at his residence and thereafter go for the burial of his mother-in-law. After the burial, he was to proceed to participate in the Rubaare Sub-county NRM primaries that had been rescheduled.
According to Reverend Canon Rubambura and Ronald Twongyeirwe, one of Hon. Rukutana’s son, who was the driver of the car sent to pick the man of God, upon reaching Kagugu Trading Centre, their car was suddenly cut-off by another vehicle, a greyish Toyota RAV-4, which blocked the road. The assailants in the Toyota RAV-4 who according to Canon Rubambura and Twongyeirwe had their faces covered by hooded jackets and or caps, refused to identify themselves. They also accused Canon Rubambura of distributing money to voters. When the Canon asked them to present any evidence of the above allegations, the assailants now threatened to burn the car in which the Canon was travelling.
By this time, residents of Kagugu Trading Centre were beginning to gather around the car and had picked an interest in the activities of the assailants who had started abusing and humiliating the elderly Canon. Information corroborated on video by at least 4 residents of KAgugu Village- Mrs Lydia Tindyebwa Korubiri (68 years), Mr Baryomunsi Wilson, Mr Twiine Erika and Wilson Kakondere shows that the Canon, irritated by the assailants, decided to flee for his life into a nearby banana plantation. Following threats from the now enraged residents, the attackers then drove off towards Rugongi, in the direction of Hon. Rukutana’s home.
According to the Canon, once he had fled the scene, he called Hon. Rukutana on phone to let him know that he had abandoned the trip but his sons who had been sent to pick him, were still in danger since the assailants had fled in the direction of his home.
With the assailants gone, Hon Rukutana’s son, and his other brother who was in the car, drove towards home, but without the Canon. However, their journey would again be cut short by the same occupants of the RAV-4 who were waiting for them a few kilometres away and had blocked the road. By this time the RAV-4 was joined by a second car, a Premio to sandwich the car occupied by Hon. Rukutana’s son. The second attack happened a just about a kilometer from Hon. Rukutana’s home. Enraged and desperate, the 20-year-old desperately called his father to come in and help, especially after the unidentified assailants in the RAV-4 had twice threatened to shoot him and burn his car.
“Even if you call your father, there is nothing he can do now,” the assailants told the young man.
According to eye-witnesses, Hon. Rukutana arrived at the scene within 5-10 minutes and headed straight to the RAV-4 demanding to know who the occupants were and why they were trailing and had now intercepted his children. Upon seeing Hon. Rukutana and his bodyguards, the attackers, in the RAV-4, who remained hooded and others had their faces covered with low-worn caps, locked themselves in their cars and refused to move their cars. Hon. Rukutana then angrily walked to the RAV-4 and demanded that they open and identify themselves. At this point, according to eyewitnesses and Hon. Rukutana himself, one of the assailants was seen ducking and reaching under his seat. This same information is corroborated by the short, edited video that was circulated by the attackers turned victims.
At this point, Hon Rukutana run back to also secure a weapon to scare away the attackers who at this point were assumed armed since they had earlier threatened to shoot Rev. Canon Rubambura and Hon. Rukutana’s son. Seeing Hon. Rukutana reaching for a gun, the assailants then once again fled for their dear lives in their two cars. At this point, Hon. Rukutana proceeded for the burial. It is after the burial that he was arrested and taken to Mbarara Central Police Station.
Photos would appear later showing that the earlier-mentioned RAV-4 had been damaged by unknown people, leaving some of its occupants wounded.
Contrary to what was reported earlier, there was no single bullet shot by the minister or his bodyguards. The weapons of the minister’s guards and his private weapon were all retrieved by the police and are being subjected to a ballistics test.
The Rwizi Regional Police Spokesperson, Samson Kasasira is on record affirming that there were no bullets shot and the wounded attackers who were travelling in the notorious RAV-4 are likely to have sustained injuries during an ensuing scuffle.
As seen from the above and as corroborated by several eye-witnesses, it was Hon. Rukutana and his family who were the victims of aggression by the assailants travelling in the Toyota RAV-4 and Toyota Premio cars. It is the assailants who threatened to shoot Rev. Canon Rubambura and Hon. Rukutana’s sons as well as threatened to burn their car. The Hon Rukutana retaliated in self-defence after his children had been attacked not once but twice with impunity and there are all the eyewitnesses, the residents of Kagugu to testify to this.
Additional reporting by CEO Magazine