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Kibwetere Site to House Tourist Hotel

The Monitor, Uganda
Mar. 23, 2004
Mwanguhya Charles Mpagi & Patson Baraire • Tuesday March 23, 2004

Four years since about 1,000 people were murdered in a horrific religious cult mass killing in Uganda’s south-western district of Kanungu police say they are still hunting the lead killers.

Police say they have finished forensic studies into the ash remains of the people killed by the cult led by Joseph Kibwetere.

Kibwetere’s Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God killed about 1,000 people in one of the world’s worst mass suicides.

The Minister of Internal Affairs Dr Ruhakana Rugunda has told The Monitor that police investigations have narrowed down to the actual perpetrators who are still on the run.

On April 6, 2000 Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court issued arrest warrants for six cult leaders.

They included Kibwetere, Ms Credonia Mwerinde and Rev. Fr. Dominic Kataribabo, Rev. Fr. John Mary Kasapurari, Fr John Kamagara and Ms Ursla Komuhangi.

They were jointly charged with the murder of Mr Joseph Nyamirinda, Mr Stephen Katege, Imelda Bwongezire, Ms Beatrice Kemanzi, Ms Rose Mary Kengonzi, Mr Christopher Tugonza, Ms Florence Tumuhimbise, Police Constable No 22679 Bikorwomuhangi and others.

On the fateful day, the cult leaders herded their followers into a building, which they were using as a church, bolted the doors promising that they were leaving for heaven.

They set the building on fire and about 500 worshippers died in the raging fire.

The Uganda police say they are working with International Police (Interpol) to pursue leading clues, some of which suggest that the cult leaders were sighted in the Kenyan capital Nairobi last year.

The offered Shs 50 million to anyone with information leading to the arrest of the five leaders of the doomsday cult.

Rugunda said police have credible information indicating that the cult leaders could still be still alive.

The Director of Police Criminal Investigations Department Ms Elizabeth Kutesa told The Monitor last week that they sent detectives to Nairobi last year after receiving information that some of the cult leaders were there.

Modern hotel for Kanungu murder site

The Mayor of Kanungu Town Council Mr Godfrey Karabenda says his council plans to build a multi-million hotel at the scene of the cult massacre.

He says the site is to be preserved as a tourist attraction.

Before they perished in the fire the cult leaders handed over to government a land title for 27 acres. They also “donated” another two acres of ekibanja (land without a title deed).

Kanungu was still part of Rukungiri district at the time. Today Kanungu is an independent district and Nyabugoto hill on which the killings took place is part of the town council.

“We want to build a big modern hotel on the site so that people who come to visit or study about the tragedy can stay there and relax. We are just waiting for the central government to hand over the place to us,” Karabenda says.

Local authorities here have approved the hotel plan and named the road leading to the former cult headquarters as “Infernal Road.”

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