Thursday, January 27, 2011

Man kills,buries cousin in bedroom

Forensics experts collect the remains of Nkundindiza in Nabweru

By Steven Candia, Jimmy Muwanika and Saudha Nakandha

THE Police have retrieved the remains of a man secretly buried in a family house, as gory details of his murder unfolded in Kibwa village, Wakiso district.

The remains of Ronald Nkundindiza, 30, a heavy-set man, going by the portrait displayed by his relatives, were retrieved in an operation that lasted over one hour in Nabweru North zone.

Acting on information from one of the suspects, the Kawempe Police boss Moses Ocheng led a team to the scene in the morning and sealed it off as curious and shocked residents flocked the place.

However, work to exhume the body only started at 10:00am when a Police truck loaded with armed officers, pathologists and forensics experts and the key suspect, Sadam Suubi, 19, a cousin to Nkundindiza, arrived.

The Police had to contend with the irate crowd, mainly mourners who had gathered at the home early in the week for the burial of Nkundindiza's elder brother as they bayed for the suspect's blood.

Using hoes and spades, the Policemen dug through the heap of soil in one of the rooms and eventually recovered a grey polythene bag containing the remains of Nkundindiza, popularly known as Nkunda.

Shock-stricken relatives and area residents tried to lynch Suubi, but the Police whisked him away.

Speaking at the scene, Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said a DNA test would be carried out on the remains.

Nkunda's body was retrieved from a shallow grave dug in one of the rooms, filled with a mound of soil and pile of garbage.

To keep the murder secret, the perpetrators sealed off the room permanently.

The last born in a family of seven, Nkunda went missing in September 2009, and his whereabouts, until Wednesday, remained shrouded in mystery, owing to different accounts.

Nabakooba said five people, among them two brothers of the deceased, Robert Birayira, 41, Brown Mande, and Sadam, had been arrested in connection with the murder.

The other suspects in Police custody are Rose Justine Mukhobe, the estranged wife of the deceased, and Moses Sserunkuma, a former Rapid Response Unit (RRU) operative.

While the Police suspect that Nkunda could have been killed in a property wrangle, Suubi said Nkunda was murdered by Birayira in a fight after a drink in a nearby bar.

"When they reached the parking yard, Birayira got a hoe and hit Nkunda on the back of the head and he died instantly," said Suubi, who claims he was on night duty at the parking yard and saw it happen.

He, however, exonerated Nkunda's former wife, saying she was not part of the plot.

"I was ordered to help carry the body to the room and under strict instructions not to talk about it," he said, adding that the incident had left him extremely traumatised.

But what shocked the Police, relatives and residents was the fact that even after the murder ,Mande, Suubi and Birayira continued to live in the same house, with Birayira, occupying a room next to where Nkunda's body lay.

The soil to conceal the body, Suubi said, was ferried in under the guise of completing the family house.

The Police said a plot of land belonging to Nkunda, allegedly sold off by the brothers after Nkunda's disappearance, could have been at the centre of the murder.

Relatives yesterday said for the last one year, Suubi had been managing Nkunda's businesses, claiming to send the profits to Nkunda.

Close to one year and five months after his disappearance, Nkunda's relatives and close friends had been served with conflicting accounts concerning his whereabouts, until Wednesday when Suubi spilled the beans.

For a long time, the Police said, Suubi had fed Nkunda's relatives on conflicting accounts of Nkunda's whereabouts, at times claiming he had travelled to Juba or Iraq and at times South Africa.

The breakthrough came after mourners, who had come to bury Nkunda's eldest brother, Edward Munyarukyiko, on Monday piled pressure on Suubi to disclose the whereabouts of Nkunda given that he lived with him prior to his disappearance.

Mourners got concerned and turned the heat on Suubi on Tuesday after Nkunda failed to show up for the burial.

Remarks by a mourner under the influence of alcohol reportedly triggered off a series of events, culminating into the discovery.

"Because of his conflicting accounts, the relatives became suspicious and handed him over to the area LCs, who in turn handed him over to the Police. He disclosed the details and offered to lead the Police to where the body had been buried," said Adam Swiaf Walusimbi, a neighbour.

Suubi was brought by Nkunda as a small boy from the village to work as a casual labourer.

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