Global Voices

Ugandan Police Investigate a Serial Murder Spree Targeting Women

"It is so saddening that we have not got the actual suspects. The manner in which some of the women are being killed is very terrible and humiliating."

A screenshot of a YouTube video of the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, addressing the public in Nansana, Wakiso district, where several women have been murdered.

Uganda finds itself in the midst of a serial murder mystery targeting women. Between June 7 and September 5, twenty women have been found brutally murdered in the cities of Entebbe and Nansana, located 30 and 20 kilometers respectively from Kampala, the capital.

Local television station NTV Uganda reports on the first nine murders of women ranging in age between 17-32 who were all killed in similar ways including strangulation and the insertion of sticks in the mouth and genitals, implying alleged acts of rape.

Several arrests have been made in relation to the murders in both cities, but the suspects’ guilt has not yet been confirmed. Despite these arrests, more murders have taken place since these individuals have been on remand. Police in Nansasa are holding 8 suspects including boyfriends, husbands, and friends of four of the deceased, indicating ‘jilted lovers’ as a motive.

Witchcraft is another theory. Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura suggested that a businessman may have contracted hitmen to kill women to secure blood to perform wealth-generation rituals. The Daily Monitor, a local newspaper, reports:

“The suspect confessed that he had killed eight women on orders of a businessman here in Nansana. The blood is to feed his rituals to get more wealth,” Gen Kayihura said. The police should be commended if such a suspect exists and a confession to that effect was extracted. However, the public is not interested in such public pronouncements.

In response, reader Ahamushozi Kanungu posed a question:

Why are they not arresting the moneyed man?! Since they are aware of him and yet they are in a rush to arrest innocent people without clearly formulated motive!!

Furthermore, distrustful residents dubious about their authorities have engaged in community policing activities to curb criminal offenses in their communities. Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police, further stressed this point at a recent community meeting in Nansana, as reported by NTV Uganda's Raymond Mujuni. Kayihura announced:

“We have put in place security measures aimed at enhancing popular vigilance — participation of the people — as well as increasing police visibility and effectiveness so as to protect the communities in the areas affected…”

On Tuesday, September 5, parliamentarians voted to suspend activities until the Minister of Internal Affairs and internal security officials come up with a comprehensive report on the murders. This directive comes on the heels of landslides in Eastern Uganda and floods in the North competing for attention from the Parliament.

During the session, Rosemary Seninde, an MP representing the Wakiso district where murders have occurred said:

It is so saddening that we have not got the actual suspects. The manner in which some of the women are being killed is very terrible and humiliating to those of us who see them.

Anger over the mysterious murders erupted on Twitter:

Twitter user @ndix_devar called on police to bring back ASP Muhammad Kirumira to Nansana, citing his record of significantly reducing crime rates in the area during his tenure.

Michael Kategaya shared a chart showing the age ranges of victims between 17-32 years old and from low incomes backgrounds:

Ngoboka Solomon expressed concern over citizens’ security:

The recent serial murders of women happened barely six months after Uganda's Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi was murdered with his driver and bodyguard on his way to work. Police linked this murder to the murders of Muslim clerics between 2015 and 2016 who were all killed by people riding on motor bikes with guns.

Originally published in Global Voices.

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