Nine years after the death of 1,000-plus people in a mass suicide in Kanungu, documentary evidence has been made public proving that government hastily approved the activities of the Restoration of the Ten Commandment of God cult.
The Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was a doomsday cult based in Nyarugoto in Kanungu founded around alleged visions of the Virgin Mary. The sect, which broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, was led by Joseph Kibwetere, Sister Credonia Mwerinde and Rev. Father Dominic Kataribaabo.
On March 17, 2000 members of the cult were locked themselves in a church in Nyarugoto, nailed the doors and windows shut and were burned to death. To date it hasn't been established whether it was a cult suicide or if the sect leaders orchestrated the mass murder and fled the country.
Four days after the fire, police discovered close to 500 hundreds of bodies at sites across southwestern Uganda and in Kampala.
A commission established shortly after the incident to investigate the case has never met and police inquiries have hit a dead end.
Now a January 2000 letter written by Kibwetere, Mwerinde, Kataribaabo and a fourth man called Henry Byarugaba lists several government officials and departments that were aware of their activities and approved of their work.
According to the letter addressed to the Resident District Commissioner and District Police Commander of Rukungiri, the sect was issued with a Certificate of Registration in 1997 by the Non-Governmental Organizations Registration board. The certificate gave it the right to carry out its activities countrywide.
Additionally, the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was granted a certificated of incorporation with limited liability.
The letter mentions that that Sister Credonia Mwerinde and Father Dominic Kataribaabo met with President Yoweri Museveni at his home in Rwakitura in September 1994. It does not say what the outcome of the meeting with President Museveni was.
The letter adds that a number of government officials including the Resident District Commissioner of Rukungiri, education officers, school inspectors and workers from the Inspectorate of Government visited the sect and approved the work.
Hints of what was to come are in the letter. It says the mission of the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was soon to come to an end after its 13 years in existence. It warns that at the end of the year 2000 the present times would be changed and there would be a new generation and a new earth. Only those who have the Ten Commandments, it adds, will go to live in the New Earth.
The letter ends with the apocalyptic message, written in bold capital letters, that the year 200 would d not be followed by the year 2001, but by Year One in a New Generation.
Suleiman Turyatemba, who lost 14 members of his family in the Kanungu fire, sys the letter has been presented to government. He says families of people who died in the fire have given government until Wednesday to respond to its failure to see the red flags littered throughout the letter. If government does not respond, they will seek legal redress.
In 2007, the aggrieved families petitioned Edward Ssekandi the Speaker of Parliament to compel the Minister of Internal Affairs. Ssekandi has asked Matia Kasaijja the State Minister for Internal Affairs to expedite the case. Kasaijja is reportedly in Nairobi on official duty and could not respond to the details of the letter.
restoration of the ten commandments of god