Kampala, Uganda | URN | Police is investigating circumstances under which Private Wilson Sabiti, a bodyguard, killed his boss Charles Okello Engola, the state minister for Labour, Employment, and Industrial Relations, at his residence along Kyanja ring road, a Kampala suburb on Tuesday 2, May 2023 morning.
According to witness accounts, Sabiti shot Engola in the abdomen after the two argued about the delayed payment of the former’s salary and allowances. Sabiti is said to have killed himself minutes later a few metres away.
In the process, Sabiti is said to also have shot another bodyguard, Lt Ronald Otim, in the leg and he is currently admitted at Mulago hospital. Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said a team from police led by deputy Inspector General Police, Gen Geoffrey Tumusiime Kasigazi, and that from Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) led by Tom Magambo have commenced investigations.
Eyewitnesses claimed that the two had a quarrel before the bodyguard shot at the minister (Charles Engola) as he entered his car to go for work. The bodyguard allegedly faulted the minister for failure to avail him some funds to cater for his pregnant wife after taking a long time without being paid.
“I was seated in my shop around 9 am. I heard loud sounds. Initially, I dismissed the sounds, thinking maybe the rowdy Subaru drivers were being chaotic on the road. I did not expect any commotion at the minister’s residence. When the loud sounds persisted, I realized that they were gunshots. I came out of the shop to see what was happening but saw an armed soldier storming out of the minister’s residence shooting in the air. He ordered us to lock ourselves in our houses as he headed towards Kyanja Muslim Primary School,” said a witness.
Another witness at the scene said that in the few times he interacted with Sabiti, he was a reserved and quiet person.
“He always said a few words and never mingled a lot with the residents. He seemed very committed to protect the minister,” he said.
Another witness who monitored Sabiti’s movements said the soldier shot several times as he moved along the road before he entered Shamo Unisex salon located about 700 metres from the minister’s residence, chased everyone away and shot himself dead.
It remains unclear whether Sabiti’s frustrations were with Engola personally or the UPDF for the delay in his arrears. Currently, a soldier at the rank of Private earns Shs 350,000 monthly but earns extra perks while deployed as a bodyguard to a VIP.
On September 15, 2022, while speaking at the army pipping ceremony held at the military headquarters in Mbuya, Vincent Sempijja, the minister for Defence and Veteran Affairs, reiterated that government plans to increase the salaries of lower-ranking officers to match the increases of senior officers.
“We know that this is the time also when the government will be handling other civil servants,” Ssempijja said.
Speaking to the media ahead of the just-concluded International Labour Day celebrations, members from several civil society organizations rallied government to implement the minimum wage for workers.
Who was Okello Engola
Born in 1958, Engola was a retired Colonel in the UPDF. While in the military, Engola was the commander of UPDF 501 brigade, headquartered at Opit, in Gulu district. The brigade played a role in fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army. He was promoted to the rank of colonel and retired from the military in 2007.
In 2006, Engola was elected Oyam LC-V chairperson on the ruling NRM ticket. He was re-elected in 2011 and in 2016, he won the Oyam North MP seat, which he held on until death.
In 2016, President Museveni named him state minister of Defence before he was switched to Labour, Employment and Industrial relations in 2021.