(Actual reporting by Solomon Hamala & Dwaya Godfrey)
Stories of bodies long buried being stealthily exhumed by traditional herbalists are rife in Uganda. In some societies, the dead are used to do manual work just as one would have slaves do their work. In others, the remains are used to perform rituals ostensibly for wealth acquisition, power and invisibility.
In the Eastern districts of Iganga and Bugiri, these stories are very common. It is worse when the dead were either well placed persons in government or successful businessmen.
From the stories am going to share with you, if you lose a relative well placed in government or successful in business, chances that his/her remains will be dug out in the dark of the night are very high.
On 21st July, 2020 Hamala reports that the remains of Musa Nkende, a former police officer attached to Pallisa Central Police Station had been dug out by suspected herbalists. The deceased had died and was buried 5 years ago.
This happened in Kataala village, Buwunga Sub County in Bugiri district.
The LC One Chairman Kataala village, Faizal Keffa said fake traditional herbalists operating in the area could be responsible for exhuming the remains of the former police officer.
“Five bodies have been exhumed from graves in the same area since the start of the year,” Hamala reports.
The Deputy Resident District Commissioner Bugiri, Shaban Sadiq urged anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of people responsible for exhuming dead bodies in the district to secretly volunteer it to police or any local council official for necessary action.
Meanwhile, the District Police Commander Bugiri, Jeff Sebuyungo said police was hunting for the people responsible to answer charges of disturbing the peace of the dead.
In 2016, Police in Iganga arrested a 34 year old traditional herbalist for exhuming the remains of a former District Police Commander (DPC) Butaleja Paul Nampala Mufumba.
The accused, Shafiru Kamu, a resident of Kinawansa village, Bulamagi Sub County was arrested after relatives of the former DPC managed to identify the clothes and wrist watch which the deceased was buried with.
Kamu pleaded guilty to police for having exhumed the remains of the deceased claiming he had wanted to sell the skull to some Tanzanian herbalists at Shs500,000 only.
The accused took police to his house where a search was conducted and the remains of the deceased were discovered hidden under his bed.
Kamu claims the Tanzanian herbalists had promised to pay him shillings 500,000 in case he exhumed the remains of some prominent personality but never turned up after he had exhumed the remains.
The former district police commander Butaleja, had been buried way back in 2011.
Relatives woke up in the morning only to discover that the graves were wide open.
According to one of the residents, Isaa Namayo, the accused had earlier been accused by locals for exhuming five other dead bodies in the area.
The other bodies he had exhumed were those of Paul Ngobi, Godfrey Wabisanda, Tadeo Bikumbi, Jacob Kigenyi and Fazari Bulolo who had earlier died in the same motor accident and belonged to one family.
They were holding powerful positions in government within Kampala by the time of their death.
The district police commander Iganga then, Nassibu Nditta said the accused was to be arraigned appear before court to answer charges of disturbing the peace of the dead and criminal trespass.
The accused was arrested as he went to Iganga Central Market in order to buy piped cigarette (MINDI) used by traditional herbalists for reportedly luring customers to their businesses.
On 4th February, 2016 a body of a 50 year old teacher was exhumed and the remains stolen; reports Godfrey Dwaya.
The deceased Aisha Namusobya who was previously a teacher at Nankoma primary school was exhumed by unknown people suspected to be traditional herbalists.
The deceased who was buried in 2012 in Nawango village, Nankoma sub county Bugiri district was exhumed by unknown people during night hours yesterday 4th Feb.2016.
According to the LC one Chairman, Nawango village, Vincent Musene, they suspect the deceased’s body could have been exhumed by traditional herbalists who want to use it for cleansing their clients in order to acquire wealth.
He said the other remains of the deceased were discovered the following morning by relatives put alongside the grave.
On the 2nd of November last year, a body of a former prominent businessman in Bugiri town was found dug out; reports Solomon Hamala again.
The incident happened in Kayayigo village, Buwunga Sub County in Bugiri district.
The deceased had passed on at the age of 58 years and was called Mawazi Kabulubya.
The deceased Kabulubya a former prominent businessman in Bugiri town had been buried in 2012 following a short illness in what residents claimed was a lavish burial ceremony.
According to the LC one secretary for defense, Kayayigo village, Mohamed Kisambira, the deceased was buried in an expensive suit with two mobile phones and an unspecified amount of money.
Kisambira said he suspects the people behind this could have been interested in taking away the wealth he had earlier been buried with in the grave.
A younger brother to the deceased, Patrick Dhabangi however, said he suspected traditional herbalists operating in the area for being responsible for the exhumation of his brothers’ remains.
The chairman Uganda nedagalalyayo, Karim Walyabire said fake traditional herbalists operating in the area could be responsible for the frequent cases of exhuming dead bodies in the district.
Walyabire said all traditional herbalists operating in the district had been instructed to register with security personnel as a way of phasing out fake ones.
From 2017 to 2019, 134 dead bodies had been exhumed in Bugiri district alone by people suspected to be traditional herbalists according to a police report.
Early this year, the New Vision reported that the remains of a priests body had been exhumed by suspected herbalists in Bugiri.
The New Vision report
The Police in Bugiri are hunting for unknown people, who exhumed the remains of a parish priest, buried in Kayogoza village.
The LC1 secretary for defence, Khalid Muzeeyi, said he suspects that traditional healers dug up John Barasa’s remains.
The Resident District Commissioner, Martin Mugabi, said he believes some healers, who refused to take part in the recent registration exercise, could be behind the crime.