No arrests 11 years after Uganda cult massacre

It is 11 years since over 500 followers of Joseph Kibwetere’s “Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandmentsperished in an inferno in Kanungu, Uganda.

It is suspected that the cult’s leaders disappeared, and arrest warrants still stand. However, to date no one has been arrested in connection with the massacre.

Uganda’s New Vision reports:

Comprising adults and children, the victims entered a church in Kanungu district and after all doors and windows were locked, a fire was started from within. No one survived.

The movement was founded by Joseph Kibwetere in the late 1980s and at one time reportedly had 5,000 members.


Kwibetere allegedly believed the Virigin Mary told him to announce that the world would end in 2000. However, he may have had more earthly things on his mind:

Kibwetere led his followers along with Credonia Mwerinde, whose teachings revolved around surrendering personal belongings. It is said Mwerinde took the property. […]

Days before the disaster, Kibwetere wrote a letter in which he announced that God’s wrath was imminent.

However, Government officials, who received copies, never took him seriously. It is unclear if Kibwetere and Mwerinde died in the fire.


Deputy Police spokesperson Vincent Sekatte said arrest warrants for Kibwetere and Mweride still stand.


Even before the disastrous fire, other followers had already been killed. Police found several mass graves and Ugandan authorities said that leaders of the doomsday cult appeared to have systematically killed cult members for months.

Shortly after the Kununga fire a police spokesperson speculated that

some cult members — who had been asked to sell their possessions and give the proceeds to the church — had apparently demanded their money back when a prediction the world would end on December 31, 1999 failed to come true.

”When nothing happened on the 31st it appeared they (the cult’s leaders) had a problem,” he said.

The solution appeared to have been to kill unruly cult members.

Cult apologists — academic defenders of religious cults — unsuccessfully tried to spin the cult’s crimes.

See also:
Uganda remembers ten years after deadly cult massacre (Mar. 15, 2010)
Kanungu inferno: Suspect speaks out 10 years later (Nov. 20, 2010)
Mary’s Flames: The Long Road To Horror In Kanungu (Feb. 8, 2001)
The Uganda Cult Tragedy: A Private Investigation (Book)
The Doomsday Cult – Uganda (YouTube)

Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

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This post was last updated: Friday, May 9, 2014 at 3:23 PM, Central European Time (CET)