Police say the cult whose members are mainly wealthy Kampalans originated from West Africa

Police are investigating a religious cult of predominantly wealthy people linked to human sacrifice in the country.

The Observer has learnt that Police earlier this year, acting on a tip-off, sanctioned an investigation into claims that some wealthy people in the country are responsible for the spiralling acts of child human sacrifice in the country.

The Acting Commissioner of the Police Investigations Department, Moses Binoga, told The Observer in an interview last Thursday at CID headquarters in Kibuli that the Police are taking these allegations seriously.

Since the start of the year, his department has gathered information on this cult whose activities are mainly concentrated in Kampala. He says the cult originated from West Africa.
Authorities in West Africa have in the recent past fought running battles with cult members. On August 6, cult members shot and killed a policeman in Nigeria who was considered a threat to the cult’s activities in Adigbe area.
In the same country, 13 students were killed in clashes between cults calling themselves the Black Axe and the Black Eye, all said to be practising black magic. Some of their activities include killing, rape, extortion and theft.

Nigeria Police also clashed with the Boko Haram cult, killing 700 people and arresting hundreds of members of the group.

“We are investigating a cult which makes them [followers] take human blood periodically. It is a devil cult,” Binoga says of the Kampala cult.

Binoga, who also heads the Collation Crime Intelligence Unit, could however not discuss their findings so far, citing fear of jeopardising the investigations.

“It is an open secret everyone is talking about it, they say if you don’t take blood, the wealth will go,” Binoga says.

Dawn of human sacrifice

Human sacrifice and more intensely child sacrifice is not new to Uganda. On January 22, 1999, one-year-old Milly Nsonyiwa of Mukono District disappeared from her mother, Esther Nakachwa. Her remains where discovered in a shrine a month later.

On April 4, 1999, five year old Shammim Muhammad was left in the care of a neighbour, Francis Muwanga, by her mother Jalia Katusiime, a hair dresser.

Muwanga fled with the little girl, killing her and cutting off her head. He removed her tongue, fingers and private parts. His wife confessed that the two were working on the orders of a witch doctor, Yunus Samanya, who told them that if they sacrificed a child to the spirits, they would become rich.

Muwanga, his wife and the witch doctor were sentenced to death on July 29, 1999 and are in prison.

A year before on October 9, 1998, James Kareju Mugisha in Nyabushozi, Kiruhura District, was arrested while attempting to sell his son, Reuben Mugabe, aged 12 to a construction company for Shs 3million for ritual sacrifice. These are some of the cases that made news before 2008.

But in December 2008, the arrest of businessman Godfrey Kato Kajubi in connection with the kidnap and ritual killing of 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye, brought to light many other cases totalling 318 in 2008 – up from 230 in 2006.

Kajubi is accused of buying the head of the boy for witchcraft to boost his wealth. Soon after Kajubi’s arrest, another man, Abbas Mugerwa, was arrested in Masajja after he beheaded his twins.

Mugerwa told The Observer that a rich man had asked him for his twins in exchange for Shs 50million, a deal Mugerwa agreed to; prompting him to behead the three-year olds.

In Nakibizi, Mukono District, one Emmanuel Kironde, a toddler, was found dead with his neck and wrists missing. The toddler had gone missing from his grand mother’s home, Namwandu Wamala, in Njeru Town Council.

Police arrested Moses Kimbowa, a witchdoctor and his accomplices Muzamiru Mukalazi and Anthony Ssendikadiwa. Kimbowa confessed to killing four people.

“Kajubi’s arrest attracted the attention of very many people and after that everything that was happening was taken as human sacrifice, yet in reality the situation is not so bad, it’s been contained; incidents are reducing,” says Binoga.

He adds many of the cases of missing children have been mistaken for child sacrifice when in fact it is human trafficking, as discovered by the CID.

But human sacrifice is one form of trafficking because it involves moving people from one place to another with the intention of exploiting them for their body parts or turning them into slaves.

Get rich quick

Florence Kirabira, Acting Head of Child and Family Protection Unit, says an assessment by Police has revealed that many Ugandans are obsessed with money and becoming rich quickly without working for it.

Some of those obsessed with getting rich quick are ready to do anything, including killing –if that is what the witchdoctor recommends - to reach their goal.

“It’s a difficult and complex situation where children have been sacrificed because of an urge for people to get wealthy. We have people who believe in getting rich [at all costs],” Kirabira says.

According to James Ongom, an investigating officer, 40 children have lost their lives to ritual killings this year alone. Out of these cases, 15 have so far been investigated, but no one has been convicted.

Others attribute part of the belief in super natural powers to the recent wave of “Nollywood” movies from West Africa whose main themes are wealth and devil worship.

“They [people] think when you sacrifice human blood you will become rich over night. Or get promotions on the job ahead of others,” Binoga says. 

Children who are considered pure and free of sin are the biggest target. More over, they are easier to trap. A 2007 Police crime report revealed that 230 children fell prey to criminals. Four children were murdered, 44 were rescued.

Most cases occurred in Kampala, Mukono, Mityana, Jinja, Masaka, Masindi and Tororo districts. In December 2008, Police Spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba, said Police had registered 130 cases of missing children.

Incidentally, Uganda doesn’t have a law against human trafficking, which complicates the fight against human sacrifice. In early April 2009, Parliament passed the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2008, which prescribes penalties of 15 years to life imprisonment.

However, it is yet to be assented to by the President. For now, the Penal Code is the only law used to charge people involved in human trafficking. According Binoga, the government established a five-person anti-trafficking Police unit within the Ugandan Police Force’s (UPF) Child and Family Protection Unit (CFPU) in January 2009.

Law enforcement officers investigated a number of suspected trafficking cases but did not secure convictions of any offenders.

Human sacrifice, on the other hand, is treated as murder and anyone found guilty of ritual killing is charged with murder and the maximum sentence is death.
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0 #1 Magwara Mate 2009-08-20 07:31
Well knowing how difficult it is to fight a religious cult, we still should not tire seeking to eliminate such a dangerous practice as human sacrifice. Whereas the law should be strengthened and dutiully implemented, the more traditional religious institutions like the Main stream christian churches, Islam and even the rightful African traditional religionists should help bring society back to morality. The quest for quick money is killing our moral fabric. Human sacrifice is ungodly and unAfrican. Let everybody put in effort to fight the vice.
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0 #2 Kayumba David 2009-08-20 11:19
If uganda government does not smaten up, the cults will overtake it unknowingly. These cults are smart, they can use the Bible efficciently to decieve masses. I think government should be critical as far as religious groups are concerned.

The best step is to identify an expert on cults and deploy him to help the police in analysising their practices and teaching.

Any religious group, or Church for that matter which uses Bible to extort money from people promising them blessings, or riches should be cartailed quickly. I can assiure you that most religious groups in Uganda are cultic in nature.

Below are some help for the police.
Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - Revised
Janja Lalich, Ph.D. & Michael D. Langone, Ph.D.

Concerted efforts at influence and control lie at the core of cultic groups, programs, and relationships. Many members, former members, and supporters of cults are not fully aware of the extent to which members may have been manipulated, exploited, even abused. The following list of social-structur al, social-psycholo gical, and interpersonal behavioral patterns commonly found in cultic environments may be helpful in assessing a particular group or relationship.

Compare these patterns to the situation you were in (or in which you, a family member, or friend is currently involved). This list may help you determine if there is cause for concern. Bear in mind that this list is not meant to be a “cult scale” or a definitive checklist to determine if a specific group is a cult. This is not so much a diagnostic instrument as it is an analytical tool.

? The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

? Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

? Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

? The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth).

? The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).

? The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.

? The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).

? The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group (for example, lying to family or friends, or collecting money for bogus charities).

? The leadership induces feelings of shame and/or guilt iin order to influence and/or control members. Often, this is done through peer pressure and subtle forms of persuasion.

? Subservience to the leader or group requires members to cut ties with family and friends, and radically alter the personal goals and activities they had before joining the group.

? The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.

? The group is preoccupied with making money.

? Members are expected to devote inordinate amounts of time to the group and group-related activities.

? Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.

? The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.
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0 #3 maxwell 2009-08-20 17:43
its a pity that our motherland Uganda with all its wealth is being eaten up by vultures in the names of "twalwana" Guys, lets practice what we preach!
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0 #4 trish 2009-08-21 20:14
Here in America @1400 babies a day are sacrificed on the altar of money and convenience. Why such the uproar? This is no difference and we are no better than them. How can we solve this for them, when we have the same practices. The children are just a little smaller.
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+1 #5 Mundeebese 2009-08-22 02:14
This is going to be hard to solve because our top leaders believe in witchcraft and belong to this school of thought.

So who is going to enforce the laws to stop this curse on our motherland? Who is going to protect your children from these tyrant suckers? You the reader. Democracy begins with you.
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