KAMPALA – The other day I saw, the Deputy Kampala metropolitan police spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire addressing the press on something intriguing.
It is alleged that an unidentified man approached Masanafu Police at around 11:30pm with a 2-litre water bottle containing an unknown substance.
In other words, it was hard to tell whether the man was homeless seeking shelter, had gone to report a case, a drunkard or a mad man.
I would not blame the police for acting consciously, the man could have been disguising himself for some sinister motive or he could have been carrying acid or petrol to light up whoever came close with the intention of creating commotion at Police.
For starters, I want to assume it is the police telling the truth but the statements that followed the police address got me thinking.
Why shoot a burning an armed man when there was an option of putting out the fire manually.
Why didn’t the man set himself ablaze from a far and then run towards the police station. If the man was a suspected terrorist, why did he carry items like a phone and an identity card that could be used to identify him unless the motive was to use the items to blackmail or malign some innocent person. I feel the man was put out of action at police
This story reminds me of an incident in a neighbouring country where three police officers arrested a Congolese man with a bag that was later found to contain gold in nuggets.
So they hatched a plan to kill the suspect in order to steal the mineral. So in the wee hours of the morning, they pulled him out and shot him dead.
They later made a report to their superiors claiming the suspect attempted to steal a gun from the cells guard. But gold being the cursed mineral that it is, the three police men failed to share the loot before the secret became public.
It is that story that has forced me to dissect Luke Owoyesigyire statement to the press. Luke is quoted to have claimed one of the officers who was manning the station at Masanafu asked the man what was in the bottle and what had brought him to the police station.
He, however, says that the man responded by pouring the substance and setting a fire. For me, my interest lies in the use of the word “pouring the substance”.
I smell a deliberate refusal to disclose to the public where the so called substance was poured. Did he pour it on the floor of the compound, on his clothes, on the police station furniture or on exhibits like motor cycles?
Luke concludes his address by telling us how the man got burnt in the process and started running towards the officers before he was shot.
Consequently, the officers managed to put out the fire and rushed the man to Mulago national referral hospital for treatment but sadly he succumbed to the injuries he sustained. As usual, the Police mouth piece left us guessing as to whether the man died as a result of the fire or bullet injuries. That is however chapter one of this story whose pieces just can’t add up. Time has come when we just can’t believe for the sake of believing as if it were in church but to question where questions arise with no answers.
The second chapter is the plan to carry out an investigation on the matter where the police have already passed a verdict of guilty against the deceased suspect.
As a matter of fact, the scene of crime is already compromised and nobody expects those police officers to reveal the underlying details.
Luke further explained that a team of investigators rushed to the scene and picked up the bottle that has been exhibited for analysis to ascertain the contents it contained.
We are told they also picked up a matchbox that the man used to set himself ablaze, a photocopy of an identity card in the name of Charles Bazil Kintu as well as a phone suspected to belong to the deceased.
You can come for my head if you want but I refuse to be a part of this comedy, police should not be allowed to tell these open lies.
Luke concludes by stating that investigations into the matter have commenced to establish the attacker’s motive and whether he is part of the gang that has been attacking police stations or not. You can imagine the scope of their investigations, the shooting of the suspect is not an issue.
All they want is to accuse the man of some other offence as if his life does not matter. They are not interested in investigating whether the man was shot at and then set ablaze or the shooting and setting ablaze was to conceal something.
You can imagine the man setting himself ablaze but his phone remains safe as well as the bottle that contained the substance, the national identity card clearly showing it details and above all, the match box that he used to light the fire.
For some of us who have kept our ears and eyes on the ground will remind you how in August, 2020 a one Edgar Kyamunywa set himself ablaze in the same area of Masanafu. Police investigated the matter but never revealed the outcome.
Having been taken to Mulago and died, a post mortem will be dome by the Police Surgeon on the deceased. I don’t expect a Police Surgeon to provide a report saying the man died of bullet wounds but the fire that cut off oxygen supply to the lungs.
Should they say the identity card and the phone were not his, human rights organisations should pick interest in the matter.
There is likelihood the man was killed elsewhere and dumped at Masanafu before setting his body on fire to disguise his death. Irrespective of whether or not the allegations against the deceased suspect are true or not, killing him is not right, the force used was unreasonable and not called for.
Should the investigation confirm the man owned the identity card and the phone, then somebody is going to claim the deceased suspect was part of Allied Democratic Forces or a member of one of the opposition political parties.
They will also allege that the deceased man had intentions of setting the police station on fire but the police were vigilant.
Lastly, they may also come out to say the man was using a fake national identity card in order to conceal his true identity. Was the deceased suspect’s intention to set himself ablaze or the fire caught up with him accidentally.
Mr. Roger Wadada Musaalo is a Lawyer, human rights activist, researcher, and politician