Credit Daily Monitor
A Ugandan driver, who escaped from South Sudan gunmen that killed two of his colleagues, has said the killers hit his colleagues using hammers until they died.
Mr Andrew Asiimwe was kidnapped with three other Ugandan truck operators, including Mayende Kamaadi and Ahemed Ssebagala, as they drove to the South Sudan capital, Juba, on September 27 at about 7pm.
“As we were driving, we found big stones that had blocked the road (Nimule-Juba highway near Nisitu Town). We stopped, then five armed men came out of the bush and put us at gunpoint. They told us to get out of the trucks, which we did,” Mr Asiimwe narrated yesterday.
Nimule-Juba highway is notorious for armed criminals since South Sudan attained independence.
The four victims, who were in two trucks, were ordered by the gunmen to walk to the bush. During the scuffle, one person escaped into the bush and disappeared despite attempts to recapture him.
The three others agreed to abide by their captors’ orders.
Mr Asiimwe said they walked for about an hour to an area where the armed men had hid luggage. The armed men ordered them to carry the luggage.
“We walked in the bush for eight hours until we reached a place where we rested. In the morning, they told us that each of us was to call his boss to pay a ransom of Shs22m if we were to be released. We pleaded with them that it was a lot of money, but they silenced us,” Mr Asiimwe said.
The trio were taken to another area where they could receive mobile phone network and each made calls to their bosses to send the money.
On the second day, Mr Asiimwe’s boss sent half the ransom for two people. The boss of the third person didn’t send any money, which annoyed the armed men.
“The armed men picked a hammer and hit the man (Mayende), whose bosses had not sent the ransom on the head several times until he died. We were forced to watch how they killed him,” he said.
Their captors told them to call their bosses to narrate to them the incident and also deliver a warning that they were to suffer the same fate.
Mr Asiimwe said a few hours after the killing of Mayende, Ssebagala attempted to escape when he saw that his bosses were not sending money in time, but he was recaptured.
They tied his hands behind his back with a rope. The armed men took them to another place where they stayed for a night.
On the third day, they walked to another venue.
“They told me that I should lead the group. On the way, we saw a group of armed men from far. The armed men said the new group was more deadly than them and we had to take another route. We ended up at the spot where Mayende was killed from. It was around 3pm,” Mr Asiimwe said.
“They then told us to call our bosses again. We made calls, but the money was sent by 7pm. The armed men got angry and picked hammers and hit Ssebagala on the head. As they concentrated on him, I took off into the bush. They chased me and even discharged several bullets. I didn’t stop running,” he said.