Celebrated author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija was on Wednesday released from his odious detention and torture that lasted almost a month.
His lawyers said that although he had been hijacked by security operatives while still in Kitalya prison on Tuesday Jan 24, he was finally ‘dumped’ at his home in Iganga on Wednesday.
This marked a temporary halt to the physical torture the author had endured through the gruesome episode that captivated most people in the country and the international community.
But a testimony by his lawyer indicates that the brave writer sustained was subjected to indescribable torture that no one would dare emulate his style of expressing himself.
And although he was ordered to zip up his mouth and not say anything to the media, Kakwenza actually does not need to say anything, as the signs of torture, including a swollen left ankle, are visible to the naked eye.
Kakwenza’s ordeal started when he published a tweet that appeared to demean the person of Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba – President Museveni’s first son and powerful military officer now in charge of the UPDF Land forces.
His abduction triggered an outpouring of anger and condemnation both from within the country as well as from the international community.
Because of overwhelming public pressure that included an application to court for a writ of habeas corpus – in which Kakwenza’s relatives demanded that Court compel the government to produce their person dead or alive.
When he was finally produced in court on January 11 and charged with two counts of violating the Computer Misuse Act and was subsequently remanded at Kitalya, his lawyers made shocking revelations that read like a horror movie.
Testimonies from Kiiza Eron, one of Kakwenza’s lawyers as well as from representatives of Uganda Human Rights Commission, confirmed that Kakwenza was severely tortured as shown by the numerous scars from wounds he suffered during the odious abduction mayhem.
“From the feet to the thighs, arms and even nails, his body is full of scars and healing wounds,” said Kakwenza’s lawyer Kiiza Eron while speaking to BBS TV. He added: “When you look at Kakwenza, you cannot afford to abuse Muhoozi or Museveni. Those men are fierce. I fear them immensely.”
But it is the brazen nature of the government’s response to Kakwenza’s torture that shocked many the most.
The President’s and his son’s conspicuous silence while the torture was taking place, has simply shocked everyone, more so those that still held up the NRM government as a democratic, tolerant and open society where freedom of speech and expression as well as rule of law are respected.
But they were reminded that this is not the first that such gruesome acts have been committed before, and somehow those responsible have unashamedly managed to keep a straight face.
Almost all reports about human rights violations made over the last ten years are unanimous in who is the biggest human rights abuser – members of security forces.
The latest Kakwenza incident is perhaps the closest such allegations have ever been put next to the name of Gen. Muhoozi and the President himself.
The repercussion of anger
Acting with rage, and above the law, as illustrated by the commanders of our security forces in the Kakwenza incident, appears to have weakened the argument of government supporters especially after professing to be supporters of democracy and rule of law.
As one Edward Tujunirwe observed, Kakwenza’s detention would instead turn the victim into a Nelson Mandela and the accuser into an intolerant blood thirsty despot.
As Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze Bakireke, the incidents surrounding Kakwenza’s arrest and torture, have caused many to think twice before they talk about Muhoozi.
Indeed, over the past two weeks, Uganda has attracted more negative publicity arising from Kakwenza’s arrest and torture.
For example, when the security forces high-jacked him from Kitalya, the European Union issued a strongly worded statement criticising the abuse of rule of law by security forces.
The United States Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown also posted on her official Twitter account condemning the fragrant abuse of courts that had released the author on bail.
For now Kakwenza’s torture may prove to be an indelible mark on the memory of most Ugandans regarding the legacy of the NRM government.