June 17, 2024

UPDF still holding Sabiiti’s body, family stuck on what next

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His family members in Mubali Village, Kijura Town Council in Kabarole District yesterday said they have not heard from the government on the matter, which has left them frustrated.

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The family of Private Wilson Sabiiti is still stranded as the army continues to hold onto his remains a fortnight after he shot dead State minister for Labour  Col (Rtd) Charles Okello Engola.

While the minister was laid to rest last Saturday at his ancestral home in Oyam District, the remains of Pte Sabiiti are still being held by the army.

His family members in Mubali Village, Kijura Town Council in Kabarole District yesterday said they have not heard from the government on the matter, which has left them frustrated.

Ms Oliver Musiimenta, the deceased’s brother, said they have made burial preparations but do not know when this will take place.

“We resolved to construct the grave last Friday and it was completed on Sunday. But as of today, I have not received any information regarding any burial arrangement for my brother,” Ms Musiimenta said.

A family friend and local leader, Mr Eric Sanyu, revealed that the grave was dug and built at a cost of Shs620,000 using money raised by the residents.

“The family of Sabiiti is currently constrained. They have been feeding people and need financial help. They have run out of food to feed mourners and some relatives decided to go back to their homes, promising to come back on the day of the burial,” Mr Sanyu said.

When contacted last evening, the army spokesperson, Brig Gen Felix Kulayigye, said the deceased’s body will remain with the military until investigators authorise its release to the family.

“His body is lying in Bombo Military Hospital. His body is not an ordinary dead body; when investigators hand the body over to us, we shall then hand it over to them,” Brig Gen Kulayigye said over the phone.

The Member of Parliament for Burahya County, Mr Steven Kagwera, yesterday told Monitor that they have been following up the matter with the government.

“I will be going to his home to talk to the family either today (yesterday) or tomorrow (today). We are expecting feedback from the government on when the body will be released,” he said.

Kabarole Resident District Commissioner Festus Bandeeba said the army leadership will contact the next of kin to inform them of when Sabiiti’s body will be released to the family.

On Friday last week, during a Kabarole District council sitting, some councillors demanded to know why the government continues to keep Sabiiti’s body and yet it has not indicated to his family when it will be released.

“Much as he committed a crime, he deserves a decent burial. We need an explanation on why the body is delaying. We are also mourning since he died on duty while wearing a uniform,” Kasenda Sub-county councillor Gideon Ruta said.

Kijura Town councillor Richard Tatina emphasised that “the focus should not be on the deceased but on his children and how they will be raised since their father was the sole breadwinner.”

During the same council meeting, State minister for Local Government Victoria Businge Rusoke said she will lobby for financial support for the family.

Ms Rusoke also urged the family to choose who will be responsible for following up, saying “the deceased is entitled to gratuity.”

“In order to seek for help for the family, there is a need for the deceased’s family to provide the details of the responsibilities he was doing at home (sic) before his death. For instance, particulars of his children,” Ms Rusoke said.

“Even if someone committed an atrocity, his children and relatives are innocent. If I get those particulars, I will lobby to see what can be given. If it’s given they will get it all and if nothing is given, the family will be given reasons,” she added.

Background
Sabiiti’s blood-soaked actions stunned the nation as he became the first soldier in Uganda’s known history to kill an official he was assigned to protect.

Days later, President Museveni told mourners at the official funeral service that the killing of Col Engola, an accomplished officer and model regime cadre, by his military bodyguard, was a source of deep embarrassment to the army.

Source: Monitor

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