Over six weeks since her naked, decomposing body, was found dumped in a bush behind rental houses in Katabi, along the Kampala-Entebbe highway, this unidentified woman’s remains still lie unclaimed in the city mortuary.
The unidentified woman suspected to be in her 30s was the 18th out of 23 women who were brutally murdered in Wakiso, Nansana and Entebbe between May and August this year.
Unlike the other victims whose bodies were identified and buried by their relatives, this woman along with two others remains unidentified.
Police spokesperson Asan Kasingye told The Observer that deliberate attempts were made to identify the victims. Their suspected places of residence were fruitlessly searched in an attempt to acquire some of their photographs in a bid to get the public to identify them.
“We failed to get their photographs or anything to identify them and as you know we cannot put a photo of a dead body in the papers,” said Kasingye, adding that not even their names are known to any of the people who viewed the bodies.
According to Kasingye, nobody has gone to police looking for them and neither has police got any report of a missing person matching any of the three unidentified women.
Unlike the woman whose body was found in Entebbe, the other two women whose bodies were recovered in Nansana but remained unidentified were buried in one of the KCCA cemeteries.
The two bodies from Nansana were found on 28th and 31st May and were buried on 8th and 18th June, respectively, according to Kasingye.
“We always want to hold onto the bodies for as long as we can until they are claimed but it depends on many factors,” said Kasingye, explaining that there is need to create space for more bodies.
He said the bodies are only buried in the event that no one has identified the deceased after a reasonable period of time. In cases of homicide, Kasingye says the bodies are buried after one week. For this case, however, he says the period can be extended to one month subject to space being available.
“The bodies are preserved but as you know, we can’t keep them for so long in the mortuary,” said Polly Namaye, the deputy spokesperson of police.
Prior to burial, Namaye states that a call for the final public viewing of the body is made. In this case, people came to view but no one claimed any of the bodies.
According to Kasingye, this is, a rare occurrence. He explains that the last time there was more than one unidentified person was after Kasese killings [after the army and police raided the palace of Rwenzururu king, Omusinga Wesley Member]. The victims were buried in mass graves and to-date, no one has shown up to claim any of the bodies.
He notes that most of the time people are identified by their relatives. A case in point is the July 2010 terrorist bombings when all the 70-plus victims were identified.
Namaye notes that apart from murder and accident victims, police, once in a while recovers bodies of patients who die in hospitals and go unidentified. Like the other victims, these too are preserved and buried in case no one claims their bodies.
Kasingye maintains that caution is taken when burying unidentified persons. Before burying them, a sample of the victim’s blood is taken to the government analytical laboratory for a DNA test.
“Should anybody come claiming the body in future, we tally their DNA with the deceased’s and exhume it if they match,” says Kasingye.
According to Namaye, the gravesites are marked to enable exhumation in case the body is claimed by a relative or in the event that there is a contestation about the body.
However, the woman lying in the city mortuary may yet get a decent burial.
“Some people are saying they could be knowing her; so, we are trying to verify that. We don’t want to give her to the wrong people,” said Kasingye.