Godfrey Kato Kajubi was no pauper. At 56, he owns property in Kampala, including hostels for university students and other pieces of real estate.
Many mortals would have been satisfied with just a roof over their heads. But it is not with Kajubi who will spend the rest of his life in prison.
The businessman, who also owned an expensive house at Gayaza near Masaka town, where he would often spend weekends, was seized with the conviction that there was more to making money than business acumen.
He believed in the unseen hand of spirits and the power of blood and human flesh in business and prosperity — precisely the sort of dark alchemy that leads to ritual murder.
And it was just a matter of time before it happened but it takes two to tango.
Kajubi’s partner was Umaru Kateregga, a young witchdoctor. Kateregga had apparently helped the businessman to recover the potency of his (Kajubi’s) personal shrine for which he was paid handsomely.
Kateregga and his wife Mariam Nabukeera lived in Kayugi village in Mukungwe sub-county, Masaka District, where the witchdoctor had a shrine.
According to Kateregga’s testimony in court, Kajubi asked him to find him a boy to work as a farm hand, collecting eggs on his poultry farm at Gayaza.
Kateregga took time looking for the right candidate. He finally zeroed in on a neighbour’s grandchild, 12-year-old Joseph Kasirye, a Class Five pupil.
“The boy was our friend and he used to visit us,” Kateregga told the court.
“He looked miserable and had told us he did not like school. When we told him about a rich man who would employ him to collect eggs on his farm, he seemed excited about the idea.
So I went ahead and rang up Kajubi and informed him that I had found the boy he wanted. He told us that he would come for him on 27 October, 2008,” Kateregga testified before Mr Justice Michael Kibita.
On 26 October, 2008, Kateregga visited his neighbour, Mzee Matia Mulondo, 73, Kasirye’s grandfather and guardian. At the compound was also Kasirye’s paternal uncle, Paulo Kasirye, who was visiting.
In court, Paulo Kasirye recalled Kateregga asking for water. He remembered Kateregga pulling the boy aside and the two speaking in whispers. The reason would soon be clear.
Just before sunset, the boy took a jerry can and headed for the village well. His family never saw him again.
That evening, Mzee Mulondo and many family members combed the village for the boy but there was no sign of him. They also visited Kateregga’s home, but were told the boy had not been seen there.
In court, Kateregga admitted that Kasirye was in his house waiting for the rich man to pick him up. He testified that a bed was made for the boy in the living room after supper when Kajubi called to say that he would be late.
At about midnight, Kajubi called again to confirm that the boy was at Kateregga’s house. The businessman showed up past midnight carrying bottles of beer, soda, and samosas.
He offered a beer to Mariam and a bottle of soda and the samosas to the boy, who had been woken up when he arrived. Kateregga drank the rest of the beer.
Although both Mariam and Kateregga were Muslims, the court heard, they often drank beer.
After a few minutes, Mariam and the boy fell unconscious.
Kateregga told the hushed court that Kajubi called a man he referred to as Stephen, who had remained in the car.
According to Kateregga, Kajubi drew a pistol and ordered him and Stephen to carry Mariam out of the house through the back door. Kateregga told the court that the gun-wielding businessman made him swear that he would never disclose what was about to happen.
Kajubi told Stephen to fetch a bucket, a gunny bag, and a knife from the car. At that stage, Kateregga told the court that he was terrified, but he obeyed Kajubi’s orders because he feared that he would shoot him.
The witchdoctor testified that the businessman ordered him to take the sword and chop off Kasirye’s head. He and Stephen were then told to tap all the blood from Kasirye’s body into the bucket. The head was also put into the bucket.
Kajubi then ordered the two to cut off the boy’s genitals and put them in the bucket, then cover it. Kateregga and Stephen were told to wrap the body in a polythene sheet, then place it in the gunny bag. The bag was put in the boot of Kajubi’s car along with the bucket.
The court was told that Kajubi ordered Kateregga to get into the car and sit between Stephen and himself as Stephen drove.
Kateregga was supposed to show them a safe place in the swamp to dump the corpse. After disposing of the body, Kajubi took the wheel and drove Kateregga back to his house, then left.
By then, Kateregga’s wife was regaining consciousness. She asked if the rich man had left with the boy. Kateregga told the court that he told her what had happened and the couple decided to flee the village.
The following day, nearly everybody in the village was looking for the missing boy, but Kateregga and his wife were not in the search parties.
The villagers became suspicious because witchdoctors are rumoured to be notorious for child sacrifice and the traditional healer was not participating in the search.
Their suspicions were confirmed when they realised that the couple was preparing to leave. They arrested them and took them to the police.
A search at the witchdoctor’s house yielded Kasirye’s clothes and the empty jerry can from his grandfather’s home. Blood stains were also found on the floor.
On interrogation by the police, the story spilled out and Kateregga even directed the police to where the body was hidden.
When the story broke, Kajubi, a well known businessman in Kampala, presented himself to the police when it emerged that he was being sought.
Kateregga and his wife Mariam were prosecution witnesses in the case before Mr Justice Moses Mukiibi, who on 23 April, 2010 ruled that Kajubi had no case to answer and that he should not be prosecuted because the evidence before he court was not sufficient.
However, the State appealed and the ruling was overturned. The Court of Appeal ordered that Kajubi be arrested again and charged with murder.
The businessman went missing for almost a year until he was arrested early this year inside a shrine along the Entebbe-Kampala road.
On 1 February, Kajubi was charged with murder. The State appointed Mr Fred Kamugunda to represent him. He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.
The dark art of harvesting human organs for riches
In September 2009, a six-year-old Sudanese boy, Emmanuel Agwar Adar was kidnapped and murdered in Nairobi. The murder was gory as it can be but they still rubbed it on by cutting off his tongue.
Barely a month before, the city’s taxi drivers took to the streets to protest the murder of their six colleagues in mysterious circumstances.
The taxi men claimed all the victims had their private parts chopped off before being dumped in the outskirts of the city.
Although there was no official confirmation, the drivers said the murders were related to a mix of occult and extortion.
Witchcraft hasn’t disappeared from African culture just as it refuses to go in the West. For centuries, human body parts have been used as ingredients for magical concoctions and charms.
To obtain body parts, performers of these dark arts kill people in order to harvest specific organs for use in the occult.
Things haven’t been easy for them with the advent of the nation-state in Africa where murder is a capital offence, meaning witchdoctors can only acquire these body parts from underground organ hunters.
Cases similar to that of the Kenyan drivers, where people disappear mysteriously, only for their bodies to be discovered several days later minus various body parts are so many in the continent today that they are treated as routine crimes in some countries.
According to the South African Police Service Research Centre reports, there is a belief that body parts taken from live victims are rendered more potent by their screams, which means victims must be subjected to pain before death.
Ritual killings have been reported in Mozambique where the country’s Human Rights League has blamed them on the proliferation of witchdoctors from western Africa.
Authorities have also confirmed that although most of the organs trafficked in that country are for transplants, extraction of organs for witchcraft purposes also happens.
Human skin appears to be one of the most sought-after things by ritual killers in Africa. During the early 2000s, there were widespread cases of people being killed and skinned in the Mbeya region of Tanzania and Mwiki outskirts of Nairobi.
Investigations by the media and police revealed there was a high demand for human skin in Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa where it fetched $2,400 (Sh180,000) to $9,600 (Sh180,000) depending on the age of the victim.
Nigeria has the highest number of occult killings in the continent. Not surprisingly, the vice has found thematic expression in the country’s vibrant film industry.
According to Nigerian authorities, the killings are perpetrated by people commonly known as headhunters, who act at the behest of juju men.
Cases of children being abducted and ritually slaughtered are so many in southwest Nigeria that they once sparked a spate of murderous protests and mob lynching that left more than 20 suspected kidnappers dead.
The murder in London of a Nigerian boy, which British police named “Boy Adam” for lack of positive identification, in September 2001, brought to international attention to Nigeria’s ritual killings.
Forensic examinations on Adam’s torso, found floating in River Thames, revealed that he was a native of Yoruba Plateau in Nigeria and the state of the cadaver indicated a style of ritual killing practised in West and Southern Africa.