An investigation by BBC Africa Eye has found that a single truck carrying eight police officers was responsible for a mass shooting in the center of the Ugandan capital Kampala in November last year in which at least four people were killed and many more injured.
The shooting came as part of a crackdown on protests in Kampala after the arrest of opposition leader Robert Kyogulani, a singer-turned-politician known as Bobby Wine, who was campaigning as a candidate in the presidential election two months later.
More than 50 people were killed and hundreds injured by security forces and police over two days in the capital and elsewhere. President Yoweri Museveni won a sixth term in elections that opposition politicians said were fraudulent.
Officials initially said the victims were criminals and violent rioters, before admitting that some innocents had been killed after being hit by “stray bullets.”
Pictures posted on social media showed police in Kampala firing indiscriminately at people in buildings overlooking the protests and unidentified men in civilian clothes believed to be security personnel firing automatic weapons. Police said more than 350 people were arrested.
The BBC Africa Eye investigation, which will be released on Monday, has replayed the killing of four people on the Kampala Road as well as the killing of a 15-year-old boy and the serious injury of two women elsewhere in the capital. Analysis of more than 300 video clips from mobile phones and interviews with more than 30 witnesses strongly indicates that all of them were shot by police or soldiers and that none of them were involved in any criminal activity or protest.
Authorities in Uganda acknowledged that the vehicle identified in the investigation was a police patrol car, but said they had no information linking it to the indiscriminate shooting.
Videos and mobile phone photographs show the patrol truck passing within meters of Kamwiat Ngobe, a 28-year-old mother of four, who collapsed and died with a single shot in the head seconds later. The sound of a bullet was heard in the recordings as the police truck drove past.
Ngobe made her living cooking, selling food to local businesses and delivering delivery to a local store moments before she was murdered. Pictures of her bloodied body show smashed plates of food that she was carrying to her grandfather in an adjacent building.
“If I see the person who shot Kamuyat, I will ask them to shoot me too. It hurts the most, I will never see her again,” said Zikai Takumala, her mother.
The same police car continued along Kampala Road, passing a restaurant where two people were shot. After driving another 60 metres, she passed John Amira, 31, a father of two and a mobile phone store worker, who was shot in the chest and killed. The next victim was Abbas Kalouli, 23, who was shot in the groin and died in hospital four days later. Then the police van turned to the northeast and passed John Kittop, who had come to Kampala to change money. The 72-year-old retired accountant was shot in the neck and killed.
During the moment or so the shooting continued, there were burning barricades on the Kampala road, but none of the victims appeared in any way involved in any protests.
BBC Africa Eye has also analyzed a video showing the “car” shooting of two sisters, Shakira Nyima and Shamim Nabiri, on Jinja Road in Kampala on the same day. The women appear among a small group of locals sheltering from the turmoil in a side street and watching the road. A convoy passes by, at least one shot is heard and the two women collapse. Both women survived but doctors were unable to save Napier’s unborn triplets. “I lost my children and loved them,” she said.
Ugandan authorities claimed they had no record of shooting two women on Jinja Road, and said the incident was not reported to the police.
The investigation also includes new evidence in the case of Amos Segawa, a 15-year-old boy who was walking home with his mother, Hajara Nikito, when he was shot in the face. Witnesses said Amos was shot dead by Ugandan soldiers from a military vehicle. The teen was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
“It was the army that shot my child,” Nikito said.
Ugandan authorities confirmed her son’s death on 19 November, but again attributed his death to a stray bullet. A government spokesman told the BBC that innocent victims would be compensated, but that verification would take time.
During the unrest in November, Briga Flavia Picasso, a military spokesman, described a “war-like situation” that meant the army “must be deployed”.
Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, admitted he had beefed up security before the elections by deploying special forces who “killed a few” people. He described them as terrorists.