Kampala, Uganda | URN | Stories of sadism continue coming out of torture chambers as survivors describe the physical and mental mistreatment they were subjected to by members of the security forces after the November 2020 killings of dozens during protests triggered by the arrest of presidential candidate Robert Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
On December 21st, 2020, Kareem Muganga, a taxi conductor was arrested from Kabembe Stage on Kayunga road in Mukono North.
Muganga says he was arrested as he persuaded passengers to board his taxi. Immediately, he says, he was handcuffed, thrown into a waiting car that drove off. He was also hastily blind folded.
Muganga doesn’t know where he was being imprisoned. With the beatings having become a daily routine, the most disquieting story from his stay in detention was being forced to eat three kilograms of posho and a kilogram of beans in 20 minutes.
It’s not only him who faced this kind of torture, Muganga claims. Many other people—about 1,000 detainees — who were in the same detention facility as he was, would be asked to eat much more posho than they could. Those who did not finish this food, he says would be beaten.
In the process of torture, Muganga says he lost a tooth and his left eye and the ear were injured. To get him hear what you’re asking, you have to shout.
Muganga also narrates that a colleague, Eric Sempijja who was suffering from asthma one day tried to pull off the cloth they use to blindfold him as was crying, having difficulty breathing. Muganga says when Sempijja’s cried for help, soldiers came and started beating him up.
“He wants to escape, he wants escape,” the soldiers shouted as they beat the asthmatic youth in a breathing crisis. After this incident, he says Sempijja was “transferred” to another unknown place.
Singing Bobi Wine’s music also became another ‘creative’ form of torture. One night, he says detainees were asked to sing Bobi Wine’s Tuliyambala Engule.
The soldiers emphasized the last bit of “tulivimba mu Uganda empya” loosely translated as “we will have swag in the new Uganda.” He says soldiers said they were going to show them the new Uganda. That night, the detainees were kept singing, sitting, standing, squatting.
Muganga’s release following his torture
Muganga says one night at around 8:30pm, on February 12th, 2021, soldiers came and asked him his name quietly, and before Muganga even finished saying his name, the men carried him up to the toilet, unfolded his eyes, photographed him gave him a white shirt and together with some colleagues were thrown in a car from 9:00pm and driven until around midnight. He was dumped in a sugar cane plantation in a place he does not know.
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Intriguingly, after being dumped, he was given back his phone, fully charged yet when he was arrested, it hardly had any battery charge left.
He was arrested when it ha no airtime, yet he found that they had loaded airtime for him on his phone which he used to call relatives.
After release, Mr Muganga, says that he has failed to work as a conductor again because he can hardly hear passengers calling him to collect the money and he also cannot see those standing on the roadside waiting for taxis.