In death, Muhammad Kirumira, 35, an outspoken former district police commander of Buyende, has sharply divided public opinion just as he did during his short life.
Detested by some and admired by many, Kirumira on his way up, found himself thrust into open conflict with his former employer, the police authority, because he chose to publicly speak out against what he called the mafia or rogue police officers within the establishment hierarchy.
He took his mission to social media, radio and TV shows, loudly urging a police cleanup. He was unflinching in holding the view that both the police and government had been infiltrated by rogue elements.
In one interview with NTV, he said he was determined to expose the mafia to save the state. “When you speak, you die; when you keep quiet, you die,” he said. “Better speak and die when the message has reached the people”.
He saw himself as some kind of messianic force and warned killers out there that murdering him would be useless. Because as a messiah, he had fulfilled his objective of communicating to society, he said.
For this outspokenness, he was vilified by his own. He was accused by the police leadership of being undisciplined and was dragged before the police tribunal, charged, among others, with accepting a bribe.
He was found guilty and stripped of his rank, getting demoted to Assistant Inspector of Police (AIP) from Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP). He appealed that judgement but died before the ruling came.
But his violent death early on Saturday night, September 8, pointed to one unsettling truth; Kirumira was onto something. It’s clear that his public pronouncements rattled and threatened some people.
His continued existence threatened their own peace and livelihood; so, probably they decided to get rid of him.
When he spoke out publicly, his bosses refused to hear the message. They were instead angered by the very public mode (media) of his communication. One police high-ranking official told journalists back then that if police had 50 Kirumiras, the force would be in one hell of trouble.
But all is not lost. With the benefit of hindsight, let us all listen to Kirumira in death. If the rogue elements he talked about still exist, let the leadership act now. Go after them before they take someone else’s life.