Return my Husband, Hamza Mwebe’s Wife Beseeches State

At the veranda of the late Hajj Gasane’s house in Kabembe Trading Center, Kyampisi sub county Mukono District, sits Mariam Wamahoro, 33. After the arrest of her husband, Hamza Mwebe, the father of their six children, on suspicion of the murder of Assistant Superintendent of Police Muhammad Kirumira and his friend Resty Mbabazi Nalinya, Wamahoro moved into her father-in- law’s home now more than three years back.  

Before the family’s sole breadwinner was detained in 2018 on suspicion of following Kirumira and informing his murderers, who killed him on September 8, 2018, in Bulenga, Wakiso district, the family was living along Bombo Road in Kagoma. Hamza Mwebe stayed on remand in Kitalya prison before he and his erstwhile co-accused, Abubakar Kalungi, were tried for murder in September 2022 at the High Court in Kampala.

Judge Margaret Mutonyi of the High Court declared on December 23, 2022, that while Kalungi had a case to answer, Mwebe didn’t. The prosecution had not adequately demonstrated why and how Mwebe was arrested, the judge ruled. Phone call records and other evidence presented in court were only related to Kalungi and Abdulrahman Kateregga, who was allegedly responsible for shooting Kirumira and Nalinya and was killed by security personnel. As a result, the judge exonerated Hamza Mwebe.

It is Mwebe’s lawyer, Zefania Zimbe who notified Wamhoro of her husband’s release, sending the family into celebratory mood. However, their joy was fleeting since the lawyer later called to tell her that Hamza Mwebe had been arrested again by plain clothed men riding in the infamous Drone (Toyota Hiace) van the instant he exited the court premises.

The following day, Wamahoro and a few family members went to the Central Police Station (CPS) to ask about Mwebe’s location with the assistance of his attorney. One of the men traveling in the Drone had stated that they were taking Mwebe to CPS, the lawyer had told the family.

She says that despite checking the cells’ registry and the cells themselves, nothing was found. While wiping away tears, Wamahoro describes their despair at not being able to find her husband.   

Wamahoro is yet to give up on the search, but is stuck on where to look. She doesn’t even have the money transport her to CPS or other security facilities to search for her husband. She would need at least 15,000 shillings for fare to and from Kampala. Wamahoro is a subsistence farmer who occasionally sews cloths with her machine which she stations in their home compound. She has failed to facilitate Mwebe’s lawyer with transport, and is worried, he could give up on him soon.

Wamahoro’s financial worries are not limited to the search for the husband, but also sustaining her family. She says her children are often sent back for schools fees because she cannot afford to clear their tuition on time. Her sixteen year old son is still in Primary six for because he never settles in school due to nonpayment of fees.

Her elder son, Shadad Hamza also says life is so difficult without their father. Apart from the financial struggles they go through, they are seen as outcasts by some. She wants whoever has their dad to release him such that he returns to his family.

Mwebe’s mother, Jajja (grandmother) as she’s referred do by the several grandchildren says she has left everything in the hands of God. A woman seemingly in her 80s, Mrs. Gasane says all she can do is pray and help where she can in sustaining her family. However, she also looks frail and complains of pains common among the elderly.

Mwebe is not the first person to be re-arrested after being freed by court either on acquittal or bail. In November 2017, Ahmed Senfuka, one of the seven people suspected of the murder of Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi was brutally re-arrested after Nakawa Court Grade One Magistrate Noah Sajjabi granted him bail. In 2019, another group of four suspects in the same murder case were re-arrested from court premises shortly after their bail release by Justice Lydia Mugambe.

In 2016, High Court Judge, now Chief Justice Alfonse Chigamoy Owiny-Dollo acquitted five men who were part of the 13 suspects charged with offenses relating to the Kampala twin bombings at Kyadondo Rugby Grounds and Ethiopian Village restaurant, Kabalagala where people watched on big screens, the 2010 World Cup finals between Netherlands and Spain in South Africa. 

The police first kept the suspects saying that they couldn’t immediately release them for their own safety for fear that they would be attacked by families of the dead who might be discontent with the ruling. However, barely a week later, Police charged them before the Chief Magistrates Court in Jinja district with what police referred to as fresh allegations of terrorism.

The same happened in November 2010 when court acquitted 18 suspected charged with taking part in the same twin bombings after prosecution told court that their investigations found that they were not involved in the attack. 

However three acquitted suspects, Christopher Baturaine, Issa Ali Senkumba and Abdulahi Muhamed were immediately rearrested and taken to an undisclosed location.

It’s now more than a fortnight since Mwebe was taken. Both the Police and the Army denied having him in their custody. 

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