Wednesday, March 17, 2010



Makerere students perched on a Police patrol truck carrying an empty coffin on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road yesterday during a march against the killing of two colleagues

By Francis Kagolo, Andante
Okanya and B. Asiimwe

MAKERERE University students, mainly from Kenya, yesterday rioted after their two colleagues were shot dead at a hostel on the main campus.

The shooting on Monday night took place amid disagreements between supporters of a Kenyan guild presidential candidate, John Kamau, and the NRM candidate, John Teira.

Ignatius Nyongesa, 24, and Brian Amoga, 21, both Kenyans, died when a security guard shot them in the chest.

Amoga was in his first year studying law, while Nyongesa was a third-year student of commerce with only two months to complete his course.

The incident occurred at 10:30pm at God is Able Hostel, situated in Makerere Kikoni, just on the edge of the main university campus.

Eyewitnesses said Richard Hafasha, a private security guard, fired one bullet which passed through Nyongesa’s chest and hit Amoga who was behind him. The bullet also hit a Ugandan student, Amon Mugezi, and got lodged in his neck. Mugezi is a third-year law student.

The bodies lay in a pool of blood for about an hour until other students in the hostel mobilised funds and hired a car that took them to Mulago Hospital. By press time, Mugezi was still in critical condition at the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Before the tragic incident, the nine guild presidential contenders had campaigned at a rally at Nsibirwa Hall in the university’s main campus. When the rally ended at 7:00pm, the contestants walked through various hostels seeking votes.

John Teira, the NRM candidate, camped in God is Able Hostel with dozens of his campaigning agents. They spent hours in the hostel, witnesses said.

As the group prepared to leave, they were confronted in the compound by Nyongesa, who is believed to belong to the camp of John Kamau, one of the two Kenyans in the guild race.

He reportedly tried to hit Teira with a bench when the group rejected his calls to leave the hostel.

A brief commotion ensued, which, according to eyewitnesses, compelled the guard to fire the bullet that hit the three students.

After the shooting, the security guard surrendered himself at Old Kampala Police station. He was later transferred to Wandegeya Police Station as investigations continue, according to Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba.
Residents at the hostel said although the guard was not a regular drunkard, he was “very violent and harsh to students”.

“He used to lock the gate at 9:00pm. Whenever you returned beyond that, he would not open. He would instead abuse and threaten to shoot you,” a student said.

She added that whenever lectures ended late, they were forced to climb the gate. The shooting sparked a demonstration, dominated mostly by Kenyan students. The students smashed the hostel’s glass windows and by mid-day the place, that was under tight guard, had been vacated.

Carrying placards that urged the Government to probe the killings, the students marched from Kikoni through Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road to the main campus.

Julius Caesar Tusingwire, the officer in charge of Makerere Police Station, had earlier convinced the demonstrators not to turn violent. However, after an hour, more students joined in and the march became rowdy.

The protesters tore books of fellow students who were reluctant to join the demonstration.

Reports said about 10 male students entered the faculty of social sciences and pulled down a woman’s trousers, threatening to rape her for not taking part in the protest. She cried inconsolably and vanished after pulling up her trousers.

The rioters also broke pay-phone booths in front of the same faculty and went off with dozens of air time cards. They attempted to enter the main administration building where the vice-chancellor sits but Tusingwire ordered his Police officers to keep them at bay.

They burnt some trunks near Nkrumah Hall from where they invaded the university main library and ordered its closure.

At around 10:00am, a group attacked the carpenters at Wandegeya Kubbiri roundabout and took off with a coffin, claiming they wanted to bury their colleagues in the university’s Freedom Square.

However, the Police overpowered them and took the coffin back. Running battles then ensued between the Police and the students, with the rioters pelting Police officers with stones. Anti-riot Police, however, came in later and fired teargas, dispersing the crowd.

At around midday, some regrouped on Sir Apollo Kaggwa Road and the marram road leading to Kikoni, the scene of the murder.

They blocked both roads with stones and tree branches, forcing drivers from Bwaise to go back as business around Kikoni came to a standstill. Bodaboda riders had to pay money to pass at the roadsblocks.

They blocked the road for about an hour, until the anti-riot Police came in and fired teargas. By press time, the situation was normalising, although offices at the university remained closed.

Anti-riot and regular Police constables stood alert in all corners of the campus while plain-clothes detectives monitored the hostels.

An anti-terrorism Police squad monitored Wandegeya and the university. Top Police officers camped at the university to calm down the students. They included the deputy Police director in charge of operations, Grace Turyagumanawe, political commissar Asan Kasingye and Kampala south Police chief Moses Kafeero.

Prof. Tickodri Togboa, the university deputy vice-chancellor, said they were considering disarming all guards at the hostels and start engaging the Police to ensure security.

John Nzuve, the education attaché to the Kenyan embassy, also visited the university.

He said the embassy would co-operate with the bereaved families to transport the bodies to Kenya for burial.

The incident happened barely a week after a Kenyan student at Kampala International University stabbed to death her lover, also from Kenya.

A bloody trail over the years
By Chris Kiwawulo  

The Monday shooting brings to five the number of students killed in politically-related circumstances since 2000.
On February 4, 2001, Alex Adigaremo, 20, was shot dead at the university by unknown assailants, days to the presidential elections. The murder sparked off violent protests.

In April 2005, several students were injured when guild elections degenerated into a fight between the supporters of the main candidates Jet Tumwebaze (NRM) and Maurice Kibalya (DP), turned the race into a fight. Tumwebaze’s supporters rejected Kibalya’s win. Tumwebaze’s group was accused of having guns. The dean of students, John Ekudu, blamed external forces. The anti-riot Police quelled the chaos.

In November 2005, Ibrahim Ssengendo, a 23-year-old first-year student of computer science, was shot dead and many injured when students rioted at the university over increased fees.

On April 2, 2007, students fought at the university’s Freedom Square during a rally. Supporters of the FDC candidate, Remi Mugagga, fought those of DP candidate Susan Abbo. Several students were injured. The Police and the university electoral commission called off the rally.

On April 4, 2007, a rally at Nkrumah Hall turned rowdy when supporters of the four leading contestants for the guild race fought each other. They were Susan Abbo (DP), Remi Mugagga (FDC), Andrew Tayebwa (independent) and Violet Acumo (NRM). Student Michael Asila was beaten into coma for allegedly attempting to disrupt the rally.

Simon Omoit, a second-year student of social sciences, was gun-butted in the abdomen after he allegedly provoked PGB soldiers as President Museveni visited Makerere to address a rally in 2006. Omoit and others were said to have flashed the FDC V-sign and hurled insults at the soldiers. Omoit died a year after later at Mulago due to multiple organ failure.

Past guild presidents
Robert Okware 2009/10 (DP)
Robert Rutaro 2008/9 (NRM)
Susan Abbo 2007/8 (DP)
Gerald Karuhanga 2006/7 (FDC)
Maurice Kibalya 2005/6 (DP)
Ronnie Mukasa 2004/5 (DP)
Yusuf Kiranda 2003/4 (JEEMA)
Dennis Okema 2002/3 (UPC)
Mukasa Mbidde 2001/2 (DP)
Asuman Basaalirwa 2000/1 (JEEMA)