Opinion: Lessons from General Katumba Wamala's Black Tuesday shooting


Tuesday, June 1, 2021 was no ordinary Tuesday and you could easily refer to it as the darkest day we have had as a nation this year.  Everything came to a sudden standstill just before 9am when news of an attempted assassination on Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala took over the nation's airwaves.

On this unfortunate Tuesday, we lost two exuberant youthful lives to hoodlums also more politely referred to as terrorists when bullets rained on the official military vehicle of General Katumba Wamala killing his daughter Brenda Nantongo Wamala and Driver Haruna Kayondo instantly.

Thank God the life of General Wamala and that of his body guard were spared although the former walked away with injuries.

Onto the Lessons

First things first the videos that went round immediately this unfortunate event took place were made by ordinary people who spread the news globally even before formal channels could do this ought to be thanked.

While we love to condemn people at crime scenes for neglecting victims who need help and instead taking photos and videos, I think it's counter-productive to overly condemn them because these videos create irrefutable evidence which is critical in investigation.

Secondly I don’t know if it’s paranoia, the endless questions, formalities one is subjected to on delivering an accident victim to a medical facility or just pride and vanity that could not give the passers by in posh SUVs at the scene where General Katumba was shot any impetus, humane empathy to help evacuate him to the nearest hospital.

Bullet shell from Katumba Wamala shooting scene

It took the boda boda every one condemns for transporting his assailants again to carry him to the nearest medical centre for first aid.

This highlights the fact that the boda boda could still be the best thing that has happened to Uganda’s transport industry in years. After all, only bodas can navigate the worst of road corridors, beat traffic jam and help deliver an emergency case to a medical facility faster than any other means, I guess.

In regards to medical emergency response services for accident victims, our health ministry and security services clearly still have a ‘huge mountain’ if not 5 mountains to climb given none could show up to help  though the incident occurred a few metres from the city centre!

General Wamala's vehicle after the attack

For General Katumba Wamala, the days of travelling discreetly are clearly over. He has to get used to moving with sharp shooters like other 4-star Ugandan Generals as the attack showed he is a marked man.

In more advanced countries, such an incident would be considered a threat to national security and all the country’s finest and most advanced machinery would be unleashed to track down the assailants before they conceal their tracks and disappear into the population.

Whether it means having back up air surveillance, putting together a joint security team from Crime Intelligence, CID, CMI, JATT, ISO and ESSO, this should have been done immediately to bring these terrorists into custody as soon as possible.

While security agencies haven’t demonstrated much being done to ensure it doesn’t happen again, I can only hope a lot is already being done behind the scenes, but the general public can be briefed too and called to be vigilant and help where possible.

For the general public, learning first aid and it’s application to save lives of accident victims is important on a personal level.  Taking the case of General Katumba’s predicament, if there was some one at the scene of crime with those skills, they could have helped the General cut on blood loss even before his transfer to hospital.

Finally, for all the advancement in provision of security for both person and property the government has done, no one is entirely safe. More vigilance and precaution when it comes to your personal security is a good place to start even before you call forth external help in case of an emergency.

Email: michaelkanaabi@gmail.com

Twitter: @michaelkanaabi

WhatsApp: +256701133509


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