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Ssebuwuufu killed Katusabe because she rejected sexual advances, says former husband

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Ssebuwuufu killed Katusabe because she rejected sexual advances, says former husband

On July 1, 2019, the High Court in Kampala sentenced prominent businessman Muhammad Ssebuwufu, the owner of Pine car bond, to 40 years in jail over the murder of Betty Donah Katusabe, a former employee of Centenary Bank.

This brought an end to nearly four years of a legal battle to have punished the men who tortured and killed Katusabe apparently over a UGX 9m debt she owed to Ssebuwufu.

A few weeks after the sentence, details are emerging that portray Ssebuwufu as a ruthless beast which easily gets possessed with arrogance and impunity. Katusabe’s fate was sealed when she boldly rejected Ssebuwufu’s sexual advances and threw him a barrage of insults, according to Katusabe’s husband Edson Muhindo Kanyambindwa.

Ssebuwufu and six others – Damaseni Ssentongo, Godfrey Kayiza, Paul Tasingika, Shaban Odutu a.k.a Golola, Philip Mirambe and Yoweri Kitayimbwa – were given 40 years for murder by Justice Flavia Anglin Ssenoga, 30 years for aggravated robbery and 20 years for kidnap, all running concurrently. Steven Lwanga, a taxi driver, was given seven years as an accessory to the crime.

“Ssebuwufu has a philosophy that if he can’t have it, he spoils it,” recalls one trader at Pine, one of the many who witnessed the torture of Katusabe. “Katusabe’s death was a sacrifice for us to have peace, for the many that have suffered in the hands of Ssebuwufu.

We all feared him. That is why you could not see any one from our place standing to testify against him. He can kill you.”

Kanyambindwa did not bury his wife who was killed on October 21, 2015. He went underground the day after, only to reappear to the public recently when Ssebuwufu had been sentenced. He has a harrowing account of events before and after his wife’s death.

“They wanted to kill me after they had killed Katusabe because they knew I was key witness to everything. They wanted to finish me. I was only saved by an Indian at the car bond where I work,” he told The Sunrise.

Death unwinds

Kanyambindwa and his wife were importers and exporters of cars under Kanyambindwa’s company, TWINCOM. Their main market was the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He returned from a business trip to Mombasa on October 19, 2015 and headed straight to Fiancee Restaurant (near the Old Taxi Park) where he was to have lunch with his wife. While they sat there, a phone call came in.

“It was from an MTN line but mine was Airtel. When I picked up the caller barked at me. I told him he had called a wrong number but he ordered me to give the phone to Katusabe. He told me that he was ‘the rich man Ssebuwufu’ of the Pine car bond,” Kanyambindwa narrated. “I also told him ‘the phone is mine. Even the woman you want to speak to is mine’. He jeered and switched off. I looked my wife in the eyes. They had changed. My wife was a calm person. She told me to relax. She promised that she would tell me everything from home.”

That night, at 11:00 pm, Ssebuwufu reportedly called again, this time through Katusabe’s number. Her phone had earlier been off due to lack of battery power. While transacting business, Kanyambindwa said, they would give their clients both of their contact numbers just in case, and that is how Ssebuwufu ended up calling Kanyambindwa’s number earlier in the day, thinking it was Katusabe’s alternative number.

“The Phone was charging. I had never seen my wife receive calls beyond 9:00PM. I started to wonder whether she had started cheating. She checked and told me ‘the man who abused you earlier is the one calling. Let me put him on hands free,” Kanyambindwa narrated. “I thought Ssebuwufu would bark at her but his voice was soothing. He was telling her how much he loved her, that he couldn’t even sleep.”

In Kanyambindwa’s opinion that was the beginning of Katusabe’s thorny walk to the grave. “She told him ‘I thought you had brains. I told you I have a man and even now I am with my husband. You even abused him when I was in his presence’,” he narrated. Apparently, Ssebuwufu responded by referring to her husband in a derogatory way, categorising him among “lousy men” who pick their wives’ calls.

“My wife lost patience. She started to attack him in a tough way. She abused him seriously. What I think angered Ssebuwufu most was that she told him ‘that is why they say at that age you have no wife and no child. All you do is sleep with prostitutes,’” narrated Kanyambindwa. Ssebuwufu apparently said in response: “You have reached the extent of even abusing me? Do you know who I am?”

According to Kanyambindwa, Katusabe responded by telling Ssebuwufu that she did not care who he was, asking him to leave her alone, to which he responded: “I will show you. You and your little husband I will show you who I am.” Then he hung up.

After that, Katusabe started to narrate to Kanyambindwa what had happened while he was away; how she had met Ssebuwufu and what had transpired.

Meeting Ssebuwufu

Kanyambindwa had travelled to Mombasa earlier in September to clear some vehicles. On September 23, Katusabe received a client from their home district, Kasese. He wanted a Toyota Premio and had UGX 8m as deposit. Her husband was away. Katusabe decided to take him to Ssebuwufu’s car bond. She had, apparently, seen Ssebuwufu on many occasions as he would enter the bank and deposit a lot of money, but she had never been to his depot.

Ssebuwufu accepted to sell them the car registration number UAX 481H at UGX17m. They deposited UGX8m. He insisted on registering the car under Katusabe’s name apparently because she would be easier for him to trace. He asked for security and she gave him post- dated cheques (Centenary Bank) – No. 413 bearing UGX 4.5m was to be cleared on October 30 and No. 415 bearing another UGX 4.5m on November 30, 2015. The following day Ssebuwufu apparently called and asked her out for tea. He pestered her for days. One day she decided to meet him on her own initiative. She invited him to Cafe Javas at Oasis Mall.

“My wife kept recording their conversations. She played them for me. I think Ssebuwufu got to know about the recordings and that is why her phone had to disappear. He asked her to marry him, promising even to build her a house in South Africa. She refused and told him she was happily married. He offered her UGX10m cash, delivered to their table from his vehicle by one of his bouncers ‘Golola,’ and told her he was waiving the UGX9m as well and she refused. She had even paid the bill without his knowledge. It was UGX 136,000. I saw the receipt. When he called for the bill they told him it had been cleared,” he narrated.

After she had told him the story, they agreed to approach their friend the following day, a money lender known as Kabagambe, to borrow money and clear Ssebuwufu at once so there would be no more reason for contact between the two.

“I had spent money in Mombasa and was now broke. In the morning (October 20) I had to drive to the Congo border to meet some clients. She gave me the documents so I could photocopy them, from our usual secretarial bureau, as I go through town and then she would pick them later. When I reached there the place was closed. When I told her that, she advised we would do it when I return. That is how I ended up with these documents (among them the log book photocopy and purchase receipt),” he narrated.

Kanyambidwa’s narrative, however, differs from what we were able to dig up through our investigations.

Gloomy coincidence

Our investigations reveal that on that very day (October 20), coincidentally, Ssebuwufu was approached by a one Sam Kiwanuka a.k.a Kiwa Damage. Damage had in his hands, a photo of Katusabe. He asked Ssebuwufu to help him recover his money from the woman in the picture since he knew Ssebuwufu, apparently, was well connected with the Police.

Damage, had, according to our investigation, on May 14, 2015, sold Kanyambindwa’s company TWINCOM, a Toyota Land Cruiser (Prado TX Reg No. UAW 058W) at the value of UGX 50m with Katusabe as a guarantor. TWINCOM had deposited just UGX8m initially. This account of a transaction between TWINCOM and Damage was confirmed by Kanyambindwa, who added that although their intended customer had wanted an earlier model of the vehicle, his wife liked the Prado TX. They decided to buy it. They would gradually pay for it in case their customer did not like it – and indeed he didn’t like it.

According to the sales agreement, they were supposed to deposit UGx 20m by June 1, UGX 10m by July 1 and UGX 11m by August 1 to complete the payment.

Things didn’t work out such that by August 10, 2015, they had only cleared UGX 14,650,000.  Damage had put them under relentless pressure to pay his money or return the vehicle. Katusabe and her husband run to court to try prevent Damage from taking the car without re-reimbursing the money they had deposited on it.

The horrible coincidence was when Damage showed Ssebuwufu Katusabe’s photo as the woman who had cheated him. Realizing that she was the woman who had rejected his advances, and insulted him the previous night, Ssebuwufu used this as an opportunity to exact revenge.

Ssebuwufu is reported to have concluded the woman was a “muyaye” (thug). Had it not been for Damage to ask Ssebuwufu to use his connections in the Police, Ssebuwufu would probably have not acted on his threats to Katusabe and her husband that soon – after all the first cheque given to him by Katusabe for his Premio was to mature in just 10 days.

“Ssebuwufu curses Kiwa all the time. He thinks it was Kiwa who brought him into trouble. But I think it was God’s plan. That man was terrible. He had made many people cry,” another trader told us.

The Land cruiser that Damage wanted to repossess was eventually impounded on November 20, 2015 by Kabalagala Police, one month after the death of Katusabe. Kiwanuka is still on the run following the case that has gotten Ssebuwufu and the others jailed.

Sleepless night

The night of October 20  Kanyambindwa talked to his wife. “She told me she could not sleep and she did not know why. I advised her to watch a movie. I asked what her programme was for the following day and she said since I had returned with a lot of dirty clothes, she would wash them and then later visit her friend Anna,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

Black October 21

“At around 6.30 she called me and said there was trouble at home. Ssebuwufu had come with police and bouncers. He grabbed the phone from her and told me ‘you man if you don’t bring my UGX 9m right now I am going to kill your wife’. He switched off,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

Other reports indicate that Ssebuwufu was not among those who picked up Katusabe, but Kanyambindwa insists he spoke to him through his wife’s phone while they were at his home.

Ssebuwufu had apparently told the Police that Katusabe had stolen his car. That she borrowed it to go for a wedding and never returned it. Katusabe told the arresting officers that she had bought the car and had only not completed payment. She was told that she was only being led to the Central Police Station (CPS) to record a statement.

“She had insisted that she was going nowhere but I told her to go and record the statement and she accepted,” Kanyambindwa said.

What followed was a long day of torment, torture and eventually death.

The ordeal

“At around 10:00am she called me. She was crying. She said when they reached CPS Ssebuwufu chased the police officers out of the car and they drove her to Pine. She told me she had been locked in a room, hands and legs tied, and she was being beaten with a machete. Ssebuwufu was the one telling her to call me. He wanted me to feel the torture. Ssebuwufu pulled the phone from her and said ‘you fool if you don’t bring my money now I am going to kill this woman’. He sounded possessed. He was even slapping her when I was hearing. He told her to tell me what they were using to hit her and she said a panga, bottles, sticks,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

The intervention of Kanyambindwa’s lawyer, Annet Kobusinge, did little to help. The emissaries she sent, Peter Tumusiime and Amon Mwesigye were also not spared. When Kanyambindwa called and told Ssebuwufu that they had raised some UGX 7.5 he apparently told him that the debt had risen to UGX14m. The extra was for disturbing his peace, and he wanted it by 7:00pm or they would pick a dead body.

The Central Police Station’s DPC then, Aaron Baguma, is reported to have visited the scene of torture and only left the helpless Katusabe in the hands of her tormentors, only asking her to pay her debt.

When Kobusingye threatened the police that she had called in the press that is when they reacted. It was too late though.

“At around 6:00pm I called Katusabe and I could hear her voice from far deep. Ssebuwufu took the phone from her and told me that time was up. I should pick my dead body. He called Golola and asked for a bottle. Then I heard the bottle being hit on the wall and it breaks. Next, I heard a loud cry: ‘They are pushing a bottle through me. I am dying…’ Those are the last words I heard from my wife. I called them and they were not picking. I think they pushed the bottle into her private parts,” Kanyambidwa narrated. “Shortly after when I called Annet [Kobusingye] she told me she had seen my wife fall as she was being led up the stairs at CPS. I thought she was only unconscious. At around 6.00am the following day Annet called to tell me that Katusabe was dead. The police had told her so.”

Going underground

When Kanyambindwa arrived in Kampala and called Kobusingye she told him not to move, that they were being tracked. Later, in what became a plot to kill him, at around 5pm, he received a call from their car dealership in Nakawa that someone wanted to buy his car parked there. Because he needed money, he couldn’t resist the temptation to move.

“Ssebuwufu had put men there to kidnap and kill me. When they arrested Katusabe they asked for the papers and she told them I was the one with them. I was only saved by an Indian who could hear them plan how to net me. They didn’t know that he understood Luganda. As they approached me, the Indian came and wrestled me down, shouting and causing a scene – that he had been searching for me. The men retreated.

The Indian reportedly drove Kanyambindwa to a police station (name withheld) where he requested them not to register his name but keep him in the cell for his safety. That night, Ssebuwufu stormed  the same police station.

“At 2pm I heard a motorcycle. I was much awake. I could see through the window. Then I saw the black Noah (car) come and park. I knew I was finished. A short, fat man, came out with bouncers and armed men not in uniform. He went straight for the book and asked them to look for the name of someone from Kasese. Those on the day shift are the ones who had thrown me inside. Those who came for the night shift did not know what was going on. My details had not been entered in the book. They opened the cell. They expected to see a short man because Bakonjo are expected to be short but the few of us in the cell were tall. Then they asked ‘who is from Kasese?’I said the one from Kasese was brought in and quickly taken out. Ssebuwufu was angry,” Kanyambindwa narrates. What happened after was for a security organ to take charge of Kanyambindwa’s affairs.

Family war

Kanyambindwa and Katusabe had apparently known each other from 2000, although they only started to live together in 2010. When Katusabe’s family heard that she had died, and Kanyambindwa was nowhere to be seen, they concluded that he had killed his wife.

“They went to my upcountry home and confiscated my property, cars and a super market which I had just bought from Indians at UGX300m. They said they were paying themselves back because I had killed their daughter. The things they took were worth UGX 500m,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

Kanyambindwa is now taking them to court. At the same time, he is filing a civil suit demanding UGX 10bn as compensation from Ssebuwufu for the losses he has caused him.

Ssebuwufu

Ssebuwufu is described by his colleagues as a very hard working man. “He works Sunday to Sunday,” said one of them.

He is not known to have a very close family, having apparently distanced himself from them many years ago. Ssebuwufu used money to build a close relationship with police officers, especially those at the CPS which is a stone throw from Pine. That is the reason why he has been getting away with impunity.

“The officer who needed money would just come to Ssebuwufu and he gives him. If you went to police and reported him one of the officers there would call and inform him. Then he would ask them to put you in the cell instead until he comes,” narrated another trader at Pine.

He bullied other car dealers near his depot and quite often had battles with them as he wanted to control the whole ground.

Ssebuwufu worshipped money and believed that with the riches he had acquired, no problem was too big for him to solve.

him, promising even to build her a house in South Africa. She refused and told him she was happily married. He offered her UGX10m cash, delivered to their table from his vehicle by one of his bouncers ‘Golola,’ and told her he was waiving the UGX9m as well and she refused. She had even paid the bill without his knowledge. It was UGX 136,000. I saw the receipt. When he called for the bill they told him it had been cleared,” he narrated.

After she had told him the story, they agreed to approach their friend the following day, a money lender known as Kabagambe, to borrow money and clear Ssebuwufu at once so there would be no more reason for contact between the two.

“I had spent money in Mombasa and was now broke. In the morning (October 20) I had to drive to the Congo border to meet some clients. She gave me the documents so I could photocopy them, from our usual secretarial bureau, as I go through town and then she would pick them later. When I reached there the place was closed. When I told her that, she advised we would do it when I return. That is how I ended up with these documents (among them the log book photocopy and purchase receipt),” he narrated.

Kanyambidwa’s narrative, however, differs from what we were able to dig up through our investigations.

Gloomy coincidence

Our investigations reveal that on that very day (October 20), coincidentally, Ssebuwufu was approached by a one Sam Kiwanuka a.k.a Kiwa Damage. Damage had in his hands, a photo of Katusabe. He asked Ssebuwufu to help him recover his money from the woman in the picture since he knew Ssebuwufu, apparently, was well connected with the Police.

Damage, had, according to our investigation, on May 14, 2015, sold Kanyambindwa’s company TWINCOM, a Toyota Land Cruiser (Prado TX Reg No. UAW 058W) at the value of UGX 50m with Katusabe as a guarantor. TWINCOM had deposited just UGX8m initially. This account of a transaction between TWINCOM and Damage was confirmed by Kanyambindwa, who added that although their intended customer had wanted an earlier model of the vehicle, his wife liked the Prado TX. They decided to buy it. They would gradually pay for it in case their customer did not like it – and indeed he didn’t like it.

According to the sales agreement, they were supposed to deposit UGx 20m by June 1, UGX 10m by July 1 and UGX 11m by August 1 to complete the payment.

Things didn’t work out such that by August 10, 2015, they had only cleared UGX 14,650,000.  Damage had put them under relentless pressure to pay his money or return the vehicle. Katusabe and her husband run to court to try prevent Damage from taking the car without re-reimbursing the money they had deposited on it.

The horrible coincidence was when Damage showed Ssebuwufu Katusabe’s photo as the woman who had cheated him. Realizing that she was the woman who had rejected his advances, and insulted him the previous night, Ssebuwufu used this as an opportunity to exert revenge.

Ssebuwufu is reported to have concluded the woman was a “muyaye” (thug). Had it not been for Damage to ask Ssebuwufu to use his connections in the Police, Ssebuwufu would probably have not acted on his threats to Katusabe and her husband that soon – after all the first cheque given to him by Katusabe for his Premio was to mature in just 10 days.

“Ssebuwufu curses Kiwa all the time. He thinks it was Kiwa who brought him into trouble. But I think it was God’s plan. That man was terrible. He had made many people cry,” another trader told us.

The Land cruiser that Damage wanted to repossess was eventually impounded on November 20, 2015 by Kabalagala Police, one month after the death of Katusabe. Kiwanuka is still on the run following the case that has gotten Ssebuwufu and the others jailed.

Sleepless night

The night of October 20  Kanyambindwa talked to his wife. “She told me she could not sleep and she did not know why. I advised her to watch a movie. I asked what her programme was for the following day and she said since I had returned with a lot of dirty clothes, she would wash them and then later visit her friend Anna,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

Black October 21

“At around 6.30 she called me and said there was trouble at home. Ssebuwufu had come with police and bouncers. He grabbed the phone from her and told me ‘you man if you don’t bring my UGX 9m right now I am going to kill your wife’. He switched off,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

Other reports indicate that Ssebuwufu was not among those who picked up Katusabe, but Kanyambindwa insists he spoke to him through his wife’s phone while they were at his home.

Ssebuwufu had apparently told the Police that Katusabe had stolen his car. That she borrowed it to go for a wedding and never returned it. Katusabe told the arresting officers that she had bought the car and had only not completed payment. She was told that she was only being led to the Central Police Station (CPS) to record a statement.

“She had insisted that she was going nowhere but I told her to go and record the statement and she accepted,” Kanyambindwa said.

What followed was a long day of torment, torture and eventually death.

The ordeal

“At around 10:00am she called me. She was crying. She said when they reached CPS Ssebuwufu chased the police officers out of the car and they drove her to Pine. She told me she had been locked in a room, hands and legs tied, and she was being beaten with a machete. Ssebuwufu was the one telling her to call me. He wanted me to feel the torture. Ssebuwufu pulled the phone from her and said ‘you fool if you don’t bring my money now I am going to kill this woman’. He sounded possessed. He was even slapping her when I was hearing. He told her to tell me what they were using to hit her and she said a panga, bottles, sticks,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

The intervention of Kanyambindwa’s lawyer, Annet Kobusinge, did little to help. The emissaries she sent, Peter Tumusiime and Amon Mwesigye were also not spared. When Kanyambindwa called and told Ssebuwufu that they had raised some UGX 7.5 he apparently told him that the debt had risen to UGX14m. The extra was for disturbing his peace, and he wanted it by 7:00pm or they would pick a dead body.

The Central Police Station’s DPC then, Aaron Baguma, is reported to have visited the scene of torture and only left the helpless Katusabe in the hands of her tormentors, only asking her to pay her debt.

When Kobusingye threaten the police that she had called in the press that is when they reacted. It was too late though.

“At around 6:00pm I called Katusabe and I could hear her voice from far deep. Ssebuwufu took the phone from her and told me that time was up. I should pick my dead body. He called Golola and asked for a bottle. Then I heard the bottle being hit on the wall and it breaks. Next, I heard a loud cry: ‘They are pushing a bottle through me. I am dying…’ Those are the last words I heard from my wife. I called them and they were not picking. I think they pushed the bottle into her private parts,” Kanyambidwa narrated. “Shortly after when I called Annet [Kobusingye] she told me she had seen my wife fall as she was being led up the stairs at CPS. I thought she was only unconscious. At around 6am the following day Annet called to tell me that Katusabe was dead. The police had told her so.”

Going underground

When Kanyambindwa arrived in Kampala and called Kobusingye she told him not to move, that they were being tracked. Later, in what became a plot to kill him, at around 5pm, he received a call from their car dealership in Nakawa that someone wanted to buy his car parked there. Because he needed money, he couldn’t resist the temptation to move.

“Ssebuwufu had put men there to kidnap and kill me. When they arrested Katusabe they asked for the papers and she told them I was the one with them. I was only saved by an Indian who could hear them plan how to net me. They didn’t know that he understood Luganda. As they approached me, the Indian came and wrestled me down, shouting and causing a scene – that he had been searching for me. The men retreated.

The Indian reportedly drove Kanyambindwa to a police station (name withheld) where he requested them not to register his name but keep him in the cell for his safety. That night, Ssebuwufu stormed  the same police station.

“At 2pm I heard a motorcycle. I was much awake. I could see through the window. Then I saw the black Noah (car) come and park. I knew I was finished. A short, fat man, came out with bouncers and armed men not in uniform. He went straight for the book and asked them to look for the name of someone from Kasese. Those on the day shift are the ones who had thrown me inside. Those who came for the night shift did not know what was going on. My details had not been entered in the book. They opened the cell. They expected to see a short man because Bakonjo are expected to be short but the few of us in the cell were tall. Then they asked ‘who is from Kasese?’I said the one from Kasese was brought in and quickly taken out. Ssebuwufu was angry,” Kanyambindwa narrates. What happened after was for a security organ to take charge of Kanyambindwa’s affairs.

Family war

Kanyambindwa and Katusabe had apparently known each other from 2000, although they only started to live together in 2010. When Katusabe’s family heard that she had died, and Kanyambindwa was nowhere to be seen, they concluded that he had killed his wife.

“They went to my upcountry home and confiscated my property, cars and a super market which I had just bought from Indians at UGX300m. They said they were paying themselves back because I had killed their daughter. The things they took were worth UGX 500m,” Kanyambindwa narrated.

Kanyambindwa is now taking them to court. At the same time, he is filing a civil suit demanding UGX 10bn as compensation from Ssebuwufu for the losses he has caused him.

 

 

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