By Andrew Karamagi
“Don’t worry Andrew, it’s just a car…if they destroy it, it’s a material thing that can be replaced,” Nicholas Opiyo calmly responded. I disagreed.
“You haven’t seen what’s happening outside, your car is the closest to the fence…give me your keys right now so I go and move it farther from them!”
Kitatta’s men, about one hundred or so of them, had been baying for our blood all morning but in that particular moment, it appears they had received the attack order.
Our petition against Kayihura’s rights violations could barely proceed. Projectiles and insults were being hurled from outside.
In an instant, we heard that the magistrate’s chamber had been breached. Stationery and equipment were being vandalized. Court officials were being roughed up.
In minutes, the marauding goons would soon be in the main courtroom, one corridor away. The rampage was in full throttle.
An evacuation was ordered. Court officials first. Lawyers and petitioners second.
One lawyer, Kiwanuka Abdallah, if memory serves me correctly, tried to drive out of the courthouse. One of his windows was smashed. There was even an attempt by Kitatta’s armada to physically restrain Kiwanuka’s SUV from moving.
Amidst the chaotic cacophony, Patricia P’Odong asked, “guys, how can we trust Kayihura’s police to evacuate us safely? I’d rather we stay here, lock this courtroom until help we can trust arrives.”
A burly police officer cast a glowering look and barked at Patricia: “follow me now, let’s move!”
We retorted with our fears and told the officer that we didn’t feel safe being evacuated by them.
Nicholas told the visibly worried and irritated police officer that if he wanted to win our trust, he’d have to stand in the same line with us so that we walk out of the building with our bodies close to each other so that any attack would injure all of us equally. Fair game.
We also requested helmets.
We were not going to be sitting ducks and deliver ourselves to Kitatta’s rabid dogs.
The officer obliged and pushed a button on his walkie-talkie, mumbling some orders in Swahili: “rudisha gari hapa kwa mlango!” *Bring the car back here to the entrance. In seconds, a double-cabin truck pulled up and the doors were flung open with the uniformed and armed occupants signaling us to jump in.
Engine revving, lights spinning, we walked single-file and piled up into the cabin. The driver gunned the truck and we snaked our way through the surging crowd of Kitatta’s goons.
We individually picked our vehicles the next day.
The twist of fate in this ordeal is that Hajj Abdallah Kitatta, Life Patron of (the now defunct) Boda Boda 2010, the only Human Lead Car, Land Pirate of Kampala and the Peter Clemenza of Don Kayihura Corleone…didn’t know that slightly over a year after organizing a near-lynching of citizens who were simply seeking to bring to book a rogue Inspector General of Police, he would be detained for more than a year, tried and convicted within less than a kilometre’s radius from the scene of his brazen assault on a Court of Law.
I can imagine Kale Kayihura watching the conviction and sentencing of his henchman from a large plasma screen while sipping a glass of his favourite fruit juice, his leather sofa’s footrest fully extended as his darling wife offered a foot massage.
“Eh, sweetheart, omwaana yagyenda Luzira bambi!”