By Alex Ashaba
A burial in Fort Portal City’s Rubingo North Division turned chaotic on Sunday after irate mourners set the body of the deceased on fire.
Amos Mugume was allegedly pursued, shot and killed by security operatives last Friday after he reportedly cut Mr Patrick Kyomuhendo, who caught him stealing from a neighbour’s house, with a machete on the chest, legs and sliced off two of his fingers.
Police took Mugume’s body to Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital morgue amid protests by angry residents.
On Saturday, relatives declined to dig the grave for the deceased until the family reportedly coughed up Shs200,000.
However, when the body was brought home on Sunday, a sharp disagreement erupted between Mugume’s mother, Ms Pricilla Friday, on the one hand, and one of her sons and mourners on the other hand.
The mother wanted the casket containing the remains of Mugume moved into the house before burial, but one of her sons and mourners objected, arguing that the late Mugume was a criminal and kidnapper underserving of a decent burial.
However, pandemonium broke out after the mother and some relatives managed to move the body into the house where they locked the doors and relocated the corpse to another room after removing it from the coffin.
The deceased’s dissenting brother was already in the house and after a bitter quarrel, a fight broke out between him and other relatives, attracting the wrath of charged mourners who broke the door and forced their way in.
They first vandalised the casket and used the wooden pieces to set fire.“When the body was taken inside the house, because there was disagreement between the mother and her son, the mother decided to close the door and mourners were left outside which angered them and they started demanding the deceased body to be buried immediately,” Mr David Bukenya, a journalist, said.
The marauding mourner overpowered and forced Ms Friday and her associates to flee upon which the funeral-goers removed and dumped the body of Mugume in the compound, piled wood on it and got fuel from nearby boda boda riders and set the corpse alight.They then picked stones and bricks from the neighbourhood to fill Mugume’s well-built grave and poured the food being prepared into the fire.
By the time police arrived at around 3.45pm, two hours after the melee erupted, the charred body of Mugume was smouldering.
Mr Emmy Lolica, the officer In-charge at Fort Portal Police Station, condemned the mob that set the corpse alight and said the alleged crimes of the deceased should not be blamed on the family members.A witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of arrest, said they burnt the body of the deceased because he allegedly abducted and tortured a neighbour’s child.
“We could not allow people to give him a decent burial yet he was a criminal in our society, we decided to burn him to ashes as one way of showing dissatisfaction. We also thought that if we did not burn him, his ghost would come back,” the resident said.
IssueThe Kabarole District Police Commander, Mr John Oese, said the deceased had five pending cases of kidnapping children filed against him.
In 2018, the deceased was arrested and remanded to Katojo prison in Fort Portal City, but escaped and has since been allegedly terrorising communities.
At the time of his death, Mugume was accused of kidnapping a one-year-old child from Maguru Village in Fort Portal and demanding Shs2.5 million ransom, which the parents paid.