By Mike Ssegawa
Before things change in this country, possibly more Susan Magaras must die.
Allow me apologize to the family of Susan Magara. Only them genuinely feel the pain of losing their dear one. However as a country, let us spare our crocodile tears. We have let down many more Magaras.
By the way, if you don’t want to hear some hard truths, stop reading. Go and do something else.
Uganda is into a frenzy after the death of this young woman. Susan Magara was 28. Now she has become a poster child of the heartlessness of murderers, kidnappers, etc who are becoming more pronounced by the day in this country. We have been here before. We bereaved and cursed when Felix Kaweesi died. We forgot.
We don’t know if his assailants are booked safely into Luzira. Nay – his death was forgotten and the investigations, and prosecutions are today part of Uganda’s play books. Rest in Peace Kaweesi. Rest in peace Magara. Rest in peace women and men who have died mercilessly but your killers have not and will never be brought to book.
You are mourning Susan.
The truth of the matter is that her death is not any special. For many Ugandans have been dying for some period of time. Many were younger than Susan who died at 28. Some were older. But they were reported as numbers. No names. No beautiful faces.
Susan’s pronounced death at the hands of her capturors and the gross description of how she might have met her death is being retold in different forms but it means; Our security system failed long time ago and two, Susan was part of the privileged class and her death shocks the world that she has died like a commoner. It’s like there are some people who should die a different death and not at the hands of criminals such as kidnappers.
Like Magara, hundreds of people have been killed. Some raped before being strangled. Some were killed by kifeesi simply because they couldn’t pay their ransom immediately of less than sh5000. So, an hungry kifeesi stabbed them to death for having nothing to give.
These criminals loiter around Uganda. Many work with security people.
Many have been released by courts. Many have not been arrested. But if we cannot lock up criminals who commit heinous crimes such as these who killed Magara, so who is in jail? Instead, you have seen our security coming with a might force for soft and harmless Ugandans who write articles such as this. Including yours truly.
I feel sorry for Magara’s family. But as a country we should not pretend that we are overwhelmed or touched by her death. We have encouraged this impunity. When anyone speaks about it, they are called names.
Women died in Wakiso district particularly Entebbe and Nansana. These women had relatives and friends. They had parents, siblings or children who cried for their passing. People have died in Masaka. People died in Kasese. People have died in northern and eastern Uganda. And by the way, people are still dying. But instead of condemning death and promoted a culture of life, we have divided our country into people who deserve to death and those who don’t. This is mockery of citizenship.
Do we have means and will to stop ourselves from killing each other? Yes we do. Has our criminal justice system failed many Magaras and let them be? Yes of course.
Security means me and you. Then the state. Right from our homes, villages, towns to the highest courts in the land, we have conspired to kill poor and rich Magaras. We do it every day by keeping quiet about the rot in our society.
There is one more thing. Magara had a family name and beautiful face. She was a child of privilege. Magara was not an ordinary Ugandan. This is another cancer eating into us. The economic divide in the country is causing this panic.
But yet, it had to come to this. And those in authority will surely wake up if more Magaras die this way.
Susan a grand daughter of Henry Kajura, the former deputy prime minister, also had a father who employed her in a big family business as an accountant. She was driving her self. In fact on the day she met her captors, it is reported she was coming from the gym which says a lot about her.
Guess what, her captors had the guts to ask for a million dollars for a ransom. Oh my God. How many Ugandans die in hospitals because they cannot afford a million Uganda shillings!!!!
That’s a big problem. And Magara died after her dad had paid over sh700 million, we are told, as a negotiated ransom!!! 700 million shillings!!! Yes. This is a serious problem. Kidnapping is all of sudden going to be a lucrative business with gaps into our security. And I am warning however has ears, with people willing to pay sh700 million, you can imagine what class of people will be targeted in this boom.
I will be honest. And it doesn’t mean being insensitive. It was well Magara died. If she she lived…what message would that send to kidnappers or relations of the kidnapped? And two, maybe measures will now be put in place to safeguard rich and poor Magaras.
I remember President Museveni directing that CCTV cameras be put up as one of the measures to control urban crime. Of course it will take more than that to control crime.
But that can help. Unfortunately, our streets have not been all fitted with this technology.
Two things. We need to resolve the issues that are leading to this kind of crime including loopholes in our security, in the law and the court system in case the kidnappers are arrested and presented before court. Kidnappers are murderers. They deserve capital punishment.
We should also address the income inequality who creates haves and have nots. The gap between the rich and poor who stay close to each other creates conflict. It breeds envy. It breeds arrogance in our communities. The audio in which the alleged kidnapper was negotiating with Magara’s relative says how much envy and anger was in the kidnappers mind and heart.
Not many people can report such a crime to the head of state. But if for three weeks, even with the president’s knowledge, Magara’s life wasn’t saved cry for dear country.