Tuesday began as a normal day for Gen Edward Katumba Wamala’s household. He woke up at about 6am, asked the house-help what she was preparing for breakfast and then returned to shower.
Later, he had a breakfast of sausages, avocado, mango slices, cucumber and yoghurt before departing home in his official army vehicle, a Land Cruiser V8 registration H4DF 2138, followed by a military pick-up loaded with new tyres in which there was only the driver.
Also, inside the Land Cruiser chauffeured by Haruna Kayondo was Gen Katumba’s daughter Brenda Nantongo and bodyguard, Sgt Khalid Koboyoit.
Midway the trip, while on Kisota Road and about 70 metres to Bukoto-Kisaasi Road, they heard an unusual sound which they assumed was a boda boda crashing into their vehicle.
Narrating the details of the ambush in which Nantongo and Kayondo were killed, and his miraculous escape, Gen Katumba yesterday told mourners that he realised that they were under attack when the assailants fired five rapid shots.
“Unfortunately, I do not know whether it was God’s plan for Brenda to shield me because they fired (bullets) from the side of Brenda, who was seated behind the driver. So, when I realised they were bullets, I ducked and Brenda shouted, ‘Jesus’, and she fell,” he said.
At this point, a bullet had already hit the 32-year-old Brenda, a fresh graduate from the United States, in the neck, killing her on spot.
In the hail of bullets, driver Kayondo attempted to power the vehicle to safety, but he was shot first in the legs and again to the head, and he died instantly.
Gen Katumba, a former army commander and police chief, who trained at Tanzania’s famed Monduli Military Academy, said: “In the struggle for life, one is incapable of doing anything”.
“[Luckily], I was able to unlock the door of the vehicle and fell to the ground by the roadside, but I had already been shot on the arm from behind. My arm was disabled. So, I yelled to my escort, Khalid, telling him ‘men were killing us; bring the guns so that we can fight back’,” the general said, as attentive mourners, weighed down by emotions and some weeping, shook their heads in disbelief.
Gen Katumba said he spotted some of the attackers advancing towards him from the front and quickly crawled behind the car and lay still.
Sgt Khalid returned the fire and “that is what helped because they (attackers) seemed to be coming back to complete the task; finish us off,” he added.
They sought temporary refuge at a roadside makeshift and Gen Katumba hid there as the guard returned to ensure the assailants did not pursue them.
“I was worried I was losing a lot of blood, so I called out for help,” he said.
It was at this point that boba boda riders and first responders trooped to the scene-of-crime, leading to the General’s eventual evacuation first to Malcolm Clinic in Kisaasi and onward to Medipal Hospital from where he was discharged yesterday in time to attend Brenda’s funeral service.
Background…8 unanswered questions
● Why doesn’t Gen Katumba, a former army chief, have a bullet-proof official vehicle?
● Why did his security detail detour elsewhere just before the attack?
● Why didn’t the attackers target the body guard?
● Why was there delayed police response when they were close to the crime scene?
● Why didn’t police secure the crime scene, allowing responders to contaminate it and tamper with evidence?
● Why was there no emergency ambulance response and Gen Katumba evacuated by a boda boda?
● Why are security forces gagging residents with CCTV cameras from sharing footage?
● Why was there no hot pursuit by security forces of the assailants visible on police CCTV network?