Victim recounts acid attack after land probe

By Emmanuel Ainebyoona


His denatured face and bare chest covered by wounds from acid burns signal a man in deep pain and agony.
Mr Amos Katureebe was rushed to Mengo Hospital in Kampala by good Samaritans for treatment after he was brutally attacked with acid and suffered horrible burns on November 9 last year, just on the eve of his appearance and testimony before the commission of inquiry into land matters.
The commission that is headed by Lady Justice Catherine Bamugemereire is investigating land wrangles in the country.
But access to Katureebe, the councillor for Nyamityobora Ward of Kakoba Division in Mbarara Municipal Council, is tough and has been so for the last five months. Security at the Albert Cook ward in Mengo Hospital has been heightened with visitors to Katureebe demanded to produce identification. We were subjected to similar rigorous questions.
“Is the councillor expecting you? Have you called his caretaker,” a female guard asks.
We quickly tell her that we received an invitation from a Labour organisation that the councillor needed support and we are here to speak to him.
The guard asks us to wait before we’re ushered into Katureebe’s private room by a gentleman who says has been sent by the councillor to let us in. Katureebe, who has lost his sight, has been bedridden at Mengo since November last year.
Inside his hospital room, Katureebe, who we found propped up with folded duvets and pillows on plastic chair, immediately asks: “May I know the visitors?”
He politely asks a man later identified as his bodyguard to let in Monitor’s photojournalist Rachel Mabala, who had earlier been held to wait outside the room.
And after quick introductions, Katureebe tells Daily Monitor journalists that he’s unable to see them given the injuries to his eyes, but he can answer any question regarding the dreadful attack.
“We had written to the Commission. So when the commission came, together with my other councillor Byansi, we decided to go to Ntare School’s main hall where all the councillors had been invited,” he recalls.
On November 8, before adjourning the day’s hearing, he recalls Justice Bamugemereire announcing she would begin with his testimonies the following day.
Without any worry of what awaited him on his way home, Katureebe told his colleagues to go and look into their evidences, which included land titles and some other crucial documents in readiness for the following day.
“At 5pm, I went to have a bottle of soda with other councillors so when it came to 7:30pm, I decided to go home. I drove my car and parked at a petrol station just near where I reside.
“After moving a short distance towards my house, the speaker called me out: ‘Honourable Amos!’ But when I turned and asked him what he was doing there, someone who was with the speaker poured acid on me,” he says.
Mbarara Municipal Council speaker Bonny Tashobya was arrested, charged with attempted murder but was released on bail on December 13, last year by Mbarara Chief Magistrate Mariam Akello Ayo amid protests by Katureebe’s colleagues. But Mr Tashobya’s co-accused, Geoffrey Ssali, 28, a resident of Bukoto Msalin zone, Nakawa Division in Kampala, was sentenced to 20 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

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