Credit New vision
On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Barnabas Bainomugisha left his home in Bweyogerere Kirinya, Wakiso district, and proceeded to his stage on First Street along Jinja Road, oblivious of what fate would befall him on that fateful day.
Bainomugisha’s friends say at around 9:00am, he picked up a passenger who was heading to the city center.
“It was his tradition that whenever he went with a passenger to the city center, he would then park at the Total Petrol Station next to Diamond Trust building and wait for another passenger to the Jinja Road direction,” a colleague told New Vision.
Friends believe that it was while he was waiting for a passenger that one of the terrorists identified as Abdul Wanjusi approached him and asked to be taken to Parliament.
At Total, witnesses say the two negotiated and agreed on a fee of sh2,000.
Bainomugisha is believed to have entered through Parliamentary Avenue. Shortly after, two twin bomb blasts went off at 10.03am at the Central Police Station (CPS) and 10.06am on Parliamentary Avenue, respectively.
Phones go off
Kengonzi who was at her workplace in Industrial Area heard the bomb blasts and even picked her phone to call her husband.
“I wanted to ask him whether he had heard the blast but his phones were off. We then started hearing the news that some people had been killed while others were injured but I never knew my husband would be among them,” Kengonzi said.
Unknown to her, Bainomugisha was among the two people police claimed were terrorists who had blown themselves up near the Jubilee Insurance building. She says she spent the whole day trying to dial her husband’s phone number but it was off.
“I then called his brother to ask whether Bainomugisha had called him but he said he had not.” A mobile money operator along Parliamentary Avenue who survived the attack says it happened suddenly.
“I was serving a client when I had a big bang. We did not know where the sound was coming from then as I was looking for a change, I suddenly heard a loud blast about 60 meters from where I was. I saw people scampering for safety. I only recall finding myself on Jinja road without shoes,” she said.
Kengonzi said she called her mother-in-law, Margaret Kyomugisha that same Tuesday evening, and the family agreed to start searching for him.
For close to six days, the family searched for Bainomugisha hoping that he would return home like he did every day.
“We almost went to every hospital and mortuary thinking he was involved in an accident. We also visited the bomb victims in Mulago hospital but could not trace him among them,” a family member said.
Having failed to trace him in the hospitals, the family then decided to try and follow up on Bainomugisha’s last moments.
“We went to his stage and it was then that his colleagues told us that he had taken a passenger to town the previous Tuesday. We also interviewed a few colleagues who remember seeing him at the Total Petrol station on a fateful day and that he left with a strange man who wanted to go to Parliament. We also established that shortly after he left, there was an explosion,” a family member says.
Armed with this information, the family went back to Mulago and again asked the mortuary attendants to allow them to check on the bodies that had been brought but they still did not find Bainomugisha.
“It was only when we insisted that we should be allowed to see the bodies of the suicide bombers that we identified Bainomugisha’s body. It was mangled up. His head was blown off but we were able to identify him through the feet,” the family member added.
The mortuary attendants referred the family to Police to get clearance. At the CPS Kampala, a family member was briefly arrested and interrogated on grounds that his brother had dealt with a terrorist.
While at the CPS, the family member says he saw his brother’s motorcycle registration number UEV 616L, which was also destroyed in the blast, parked at the station.
The relative gave the security officers details about his brother and how he acquired the motorcycle from Tugende. Tugende is a for-profit social enterprise providing asset and SME finance, leasing, insurance, and financial literacy to customers.
The company had provided Bainomugisha the motorcycle on loan and he had been paying instalments.
The wife says he was paying sh100,000 per week, but she’s not aware of what the balance was. This paper has learned that following the explosion security agencies recovered Bainomugisha’s national and Tugende identity cards.
Police speaks out
On Wednesday, security officers raided Tugende’s offices and arrested some of its top officials and employees on allegations that they had facilitated terrorism.
“It is true we arrested some of the Tugende staff and detained them, but later gave them bond. We were also hunting for their Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Michael Wilkerson who we were told had travelled to the United States,” a security official privy to the investigations said.
Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga, said they would not go with the version of the family and friends because none of them was monitoring Bainomugisha’s movement.
“They simply need to cooperate so that they can link or delink their brother from acts of terrorism. If they have information, let them guide the Police into getting the truth,” Enanga said.
He admitted that two people had died in the explosion at Parliamentary Avenue but that the police only had Wanzusi’s and urged relatives to clear the deceased’s name from acts of terrorism.
New Vision has learned that the detectives went with the relatives to Bainomugisha’s home in Kirinya and searched it but did not take anything.
“We were then advised to do a DNA test to recover his remains. We have been told that the DNA results will be released next week before we can take his remains for burial,” the wife said.
The family says they are sure the body identified at the mortuary was that of Bainomugisha.
By Friday, the family was still making arrangements and reaching out to friends to try and raise money to enable bury his remains in Isingiro when cleared by security.
Last week, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said Government would assist families who lost their beloved ones in the bomb attacks.
Bainomugisha’s family is now appealing to Government to come to their rescue. Kengonzi rents a single room in Wabigalo-Kisugu, Makindye Division while Bainomugisha rented in Bweyogerere, Wakiso district.
“But we were just counting days to start living together after visiting his parents’ home on Christmas. He loved his son so much,” Bainomugisha’s wife, Kengonzi says.
“I am a casual laborer. My husband did not have any other property. Even his bodaboda was burnt.”