Police officer implicated in Kayunga ritual murder

Wilber Ssebuyungo alias Owen Ssonko one of the six witch doctors accused of murdering Zulaikah Nansamba and four others in a shrine in Kayunga District has changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. Ssebuyungo has also told Mukono High court presided over by Justice, Margret Mutonyi that a police officer participated in the ritual murder to get a promotion.

He is charged together with five others including Muhammad Wamala alias Vincent Paul, James Lutwaama, Fred Kiiza Ssemanda, Joseph Kibuuka alias Junior and Isah Walakira. They are battling six counts of murder and aggravated human trafficking in 2017.  When the suspects first appeared before Justice Mutonyi on October 4, 2019 they all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Court proceeded with trial prompting prosecution to present 13 witnesses to pin the accused. However, Ssebuyungo through his lawyer, Robert Nazimana applied for plea-bargaining. He asked prosecution to reduce six counts of murder to one and aggravated human trafficking in exchange for a 30 year jail term and testify against his co-accused as a state witness.

On Tuesday, Justice Mutonyi endorsed the plea-bargain deal and convicted Ssebuyungo to 30 years in jail for both counts to be served co-currently at Luzira prison.

She ordered him to reveal to court everything he knows about the matter. In his testimony, Ssebuyungo implicated Corporal Harriet Nabitaka, who is attached to Nakasajja police post for conspiring with Wamala to kill Nansamba.

Nabitaka had earlier appeared as a prosecution witness against the accused. While appearing in court on October 29, she confessed having connected Nansamba to Ssebuyungo for a divine healing since he had healed her mother.

“I knew Ssebuyungo from my mother who used to visit him and healed her from being confronted by demons. When Nansamba told me that she had had similar challenges I connected her there,” Nabitaka explained to court.

However, Ssebuyonga says Nabitaka approached him seeking help to secure a promotion at her work place and promised to send Nansamba who was tracing for her biological father and stabilize her relationship with her boyfriend. Ssebuyonga noted that Nansamba’s requests were hard since she had just inherited the shrines from his father two years back.

He told court that he instead referred Nansamba to Wamala, who was more senior than him. Wamala operates a shrine in Nansana Ngandu but performs ritual sacrifices at Ssebuyungo’s home, which seats on 7acres of land and had five shrines.  He explained to court that Nansamba came in the evening the day she was killed. They sacrificed a black cock and goat before giving her some strong herbal concoction in a bottle, which weakened her.

Wamala hit her on the head as she was struggling for her life. He hit her again using a pick axe killing her. Wamala ordered Nabitaka to leak the blood before he did the same. Then he told her that the promotion will knock on her door soon,” Ssebuyungo told court.

He explained that they buried Nansamba’s body in the shrine. Nansamba’s relatives filed a case of missing person at Naggalama police station in February 2017.  In May, police and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence-CMI discovered her body in Ssebuyungo’s shrine together with four other bodies. The matter will return to court for the cross examination of Ssebuyungo on November 27.