Missing persons; Kitalya prison on the spot over food items

Stella Nayiga

Since last December, Stella Nayiga has been frequenting Kitalya prison taking food and other essentials for her husband, Kassim Migadde after soldiers at Makindye military police barracks convinced her that he had been remanded to the prison facility.

Migadde, a 32-year-old boda boda cyclist was arrested on December 21, 2020, at Kajjansi along the Kampala – Entebbe road as the state intensified its crackdown on opposition supporters, particularly those who identified with Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu’s National Unity Platform (NUP) party.

For three days, Nayiga didn’t know her husband’s whereabouts until one of his colleagues told her about Migadde’s brutal arrest by armed men who were travelling in a van popularly known as “Drone.”

Her first point of call was the military police barracks at Makindye near Kampala where she went on December 26, 2020, but on reaching there, the soldiers manning the entrance told her that they did not have anyone known by the names of Kassim Migadde and thus referred her to Kitalya prison.

Two days later, she went to Kitalya prison but was turned away because the person she was looking for was not at the facility.

‘‘When they told me that he was not at Kitalya, I decided to go back to Makindye that very day. I was in the company of my husband’s brother, and once we got to Makindye, we got so furious with the security officer who was at the gate who then admitted that they have my husband but they did not allow us to see him,’’ Nayiga said.

On January 18, 2021, Nayiga learnt through a newspaper article that her husband was part of a group of seven NUP supporters that General Court Martial had remanded to Kitalya prison on charges of unlawful use of military uniform.

This time, she waited till February 1 when they were supposed to re-appear before the Makindye based military court. She waited in vain as the accused were never brought to court.

But at least she had confirmation that her husband was in Kitalya prison with other NUP supporters such as Edward Ssebufu aka Eddy Mutwe.

The day she went back to Kitalya, she went with people who had gone to visit other NUP members and they had carried with them some food items.

Since that time, she started taking food items for her husband to Kitalya although she never got a chance to see her husband due to COVID-19 restrictions. Nonetheless, she continued to visit the prison, carrying food and other essential items for Migadde.

To her shock, when the Internal Affairs minister, Gen. Jeje Odongo presented to Parliament a list of 177 missing persons, Migadde was listed among the NUP supporters under detention at Makindye military police barracks.

This has left her wondering who has been enjoying the food she has been taking to Kitalya for her husband.

‘‘I have been taking rice, cooking oil, sugar, soap, and other items to Kitalya and spending over Shs 200,000 every time I go there. I am now wondering who could be the person that has been taking advantage of a poor woman like me, eating the items I have been taking for my husband,” Nayiga said.

‘‘Considering what I am still going through since the arrest of my husband; regrettably, he has never tasted the food I have been taking to Kitalya with the hope that my husband is there,’’ she added.

The mother of two has been forced to take their children to their grandparents and rented a small room that serves as her residential and tailoring workshop to raise money to cater for her children and at the same time buy essentials for her jailed husband.

The Prisons spokesperson, Frank Baine, confirmed that Migadde is in Kitalya since January 18, the day he was remanded there by the court martial.

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