Sharp words were exchanged at the requiem mass for the late Cerinah Nebanda, the Butaleja Woman Member of Parliament who died under unclear circumstances on Friday night. The mass at Christ the King Church in Kampala had started well on Tuesday morning before degenerating into shouting and accusations of foul play in the legislatorâ€™s death.
The mass at Christ the King Church in Kampala had started well on Tuesday morning before degenerating into shouting and accusations of foul play in the legislator’s death.
Family members including Nebanda’s father, Fred Mukasa, her mother AliceNamulwa and brother Robert Wandera all said that government should explain the death of the 24 year old vocal legislator. Wandera in particular told the mourners that his sister did not die naturally, but that she was killed and government should find the killers and bring them to book.
Alice Namulwa said her daughter never used to drink alcohol or use drugs, dismissing earlier reports by the police linking Nebanda’s death to drug overdose. She too insisted that the MP was killed and asked police chief Kale Kayihura to look for the killers.
Fred Mukasa claimed that some people he did not name approached him and wanted him to say his daughter died of a heart attack.
There was confusion at the church when Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, who like Nebanda was branded “rebelMP” for being outspoken and opposing some NRM party positions, was blocked from speaking at the requiem mass. The family members insisted that the legislator be allowed to speak. He later spoke and said Nebanda’s death should be explained by government.
Earlier, Kinkiizi East MP Dr Chris Baryomunsi caused more speculation when he told mourners that a pathologist who was being sent to South Africa for more tests on the external substances found in Nebanda’s body was intercepted at Entebbe Airport. When approached by URN to explain, Baryomunsi said he would address a press conference on what he described as disturbing news.
Nebanda was pronounced dead on Friday night shortly after being brought to Mukwaya General Clinic in Nsambya, Kampala, by a man believed to be her lover. The man, who was reportedly in company of friends, has since been identified as Adam Suleiman Kalungi.
The minister for General Duties, Professor Tarsis Kabwegyere, who was representing government, asked mourners not to go speculating about the death of Nebanda. He said death is there for when the time comes.
Among the people at the church is Karamoja Minister Janet Museveni and Sarah Opendi, state minister for Primary Health Care among others.
Also in attendance at the mass, which was led by Reverend Father Lawrence Kibuuka, were UPDF commander of Land Forces Lt Gen Katumba Wamala, Retired Bishop of Kampala Dr Zac Niringiye, and Members of Parliament and opposition politicians.
Family members of the deceased MP wore T-Shirts with words, “Cerinah, Esangaalo Lya Bunyole” which literally means “Cerinah, the Happiness of Bunyole.”
After the mass, the body of the legislator was taken to Parliament, where it will lie in state until 2:00pm when the House will hold a special sitting to eulogize her.
The death of Nebanda, who was voted into the 9th parliament in February 2011, sparked speculation and conspiracy theories, with some people saying she could have been poisoned.
Police at the weekend released a preliminary report suggesting that she could have died due to drug overdose. The police report stemmed from the microscopic study that was carried out by a combined team of doctors including MPs Chris Baryomunsi, Medard Bitekyerezo, Sam Lyomoki and a doctor from the deceased’s family.
The preliminary findings indicated that the lungs and pancreas of the deceased MP were damaged. They also indicate that there was alcohol in the body of the deceased. Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Kinkiizi East MP and a member of the team that examined Nebanda’s body, told the media on Sunday that they detected “external toxic substances” that could have caused acute pancreatic failure and lung consolidation. Baryomunsi, however, ruled out drug abuse and natural causes. He explained that they cannot believe that she died of drug overdose because she never used drugs and was also not a drunk.
Police detectives who searched the home of Nebanda’s lover say they found bottles of wine in the house. Kalungi is still in hiding, having last seen on Friday night, shortly after the MP was pronounced dead at about 8:00pm.
President Yoweri Museveni while meeting the bereaved family in Kitubulu, Entebbe on Monday, warned against what he called reckless talk and speculation about the cause of Nebanda’s death. He noted that they should wait for police to do its work and release a report in one week.