What You need to know about ‘Uganda’s Most Wanted Criminal’

Following the story that ran in Sunday vision, last month where reporters went on ground in Mayuge and talked to residents about his disappearance, Chibita has said they will make everything possible to find him because he has to serve his sentence.

“Tigawalana is the most wanted criminal in Uganda because he murdered his opponent and we shall get him. We only need good and reliable information” he noted.

Ten years down the road since Tigawalana disappeared after the court of appeal convicted him for the murder of his political rival Fred Musiitwa Nume.

What happened?

Tigawalana and Musiitwa tussled it out for the seat of Mayuge LC5 Chairperson. When Tigawalagana won, Musiitwa filed a petition to annul Tigawalana’s election saying he had no qualifications to be a district chairperson.  The two went to the same school, Kiira College Butiki in Jinja. Musiitwa told the court that in their fourth year, there was a strike and Tigawalana was expelled. He missed exams and never continued with school.

Mike Chibita DPP

As the hearing was continuing, on January 16, 2003, Musiitwa was abducted at another court where he had gone to testify in a different case. That day, a number of people driving a Toyota Corona came to the Kityerera court and laid in wait outside. Two of them who were dressed in an army uniform stayed in the car while three wearing army boots kept moving around the court premises.

When the court was adjourned and Musiitwa came out of the courtroom, he was grabbed by two of the men roughed up and forced into their car. They took his documents and his jacket from him before driving him away. His own car was left at the court premises

Musiitwa’s brother Fred Mugoya who witnessed the kidnap says he pleaded with a Police officer at the court identified as Salakan to save his brother but he refused.

“He told me my brother should settle his own wars,” Mugoya says ruefully. Salakan has since died.

Later Musiitwa’s body which had also been burnt with acid was found dumped on Mityana road wrapped in big black polythene bags.

Soon after, a man identified as John Bateganya from Mayuge trading centre, who was Tigawalana’s close associate, was arrested. He led Police to where the body had been dumped in Bujuuko Forest on Mityana road. However, Police in Bujuuko had already retrieved the body and taken it to Mulago mortuary from where they buried it at the Bukasa Kampala City Council cemetery.

Tigawalana Handing over PLE certificate to one of Outstanding Pupil before his conviction

On January 26, 2003, ten days after his kidnap and murder, Musiitwa’s body was exhumed and reburied in Mayuge on January 27, 2003.

Tigawalana Handing Over PLE Certificate before his conviction

Tigawalana acquitted

 Two years after Musiitw’a murder, Tigawalana was acquitted by High court judge Richard Oscar Okumu-Wengi. The judge said he did not find any incriminating evidence against Tigawalagana but convicted his co-accused, two soldiers, Lt. Gadhafi Yakubu Walusimbi and Bwambale, of manslaughter, a lesser offense. He sentenced Walusimbi to 18 years’ imprisonment and Bwambale to 7 years imprisonment.

Not satisfied with the sentence, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appealed to the Court of Appeal against both Tigawalana’s acquittal and lesser offense for the two co-accused.

The State Attorney, Vincent Okwanga, argued that that the court overlooked the overwhelming murder evidence against Tigawalana and the other two. The fourth suspect, a soldier identified as Kiganira, had died in Prison under mysterious circumstances during the trial period.

The Court of Appeal overturned the High Court verdict in 2009 and convicted Tigawalana and the two of the murder. The Coram of Justices led by the Deputy Chief Justice, Laetitia Mukasa Kikonyogo, unanimously ruled that Tigawalana, whom his friends had nicknamed Afande Kazini, was part of the intrigue to kill Musiitwa. 

“The deal was done under his supervision after promising to the killers to return to his home for payment for payments for a job accomplished,” the judge said. “We are left in no doubt whatsoever that the man nicknamed Afande Kazini (Tigawalana) was the mastermind of the plot to kill Fred Musiitwa.”


The news of his conviction found him attending an NRM retreat in Kyankwanzi. He did not wait. He promptly disappeared.

Despite his disappearance, Tigawalana has never been put on the Police wanted list of fugitives or placed on the Interpol red notice to be arrested in jurisdictions outside Uganda. 

Police are aware 

But residents in Mayuge say the Police know Tigawalana’s whereabouts and they are equally baffled as to why Police have never arrested him. When visited, they said they are living under fear and called for justice. 

A source we shall not name for security purposes said Musiitwa’s family also gave up the case due to threats from Tigawalana’s side.

“Because we are poor, our case is stagnant. A poor person will never win a case in Uganda. Tigawalana comes home and everybody knows, including the security people. They instead rub shoulders with him, the source said.

When we asked the Mayuge District Police Commander, Rodgers Kapere, he refuted the allegation.

“I have never heard that Tigawalana comes back since he disappeared from Kyankwanzi,” he said. “I have tried to ask around, people who know him well say he got citizenship in South Africa! But Tigawalagana’s case is no longer our mandate as police; it is a court case.”

He, however, says anybody who says he comes home with Police knowledge should go to him (Kapere) and take him to the house where he sleeps when he is around.

“I will personally and immediately arrest him,” he swore.

Another source laughed him off as being dishonest.

“Police know the truth that Tigawalana comes home every month. What the police boss is talking about the said acquisition of South African citizenship is hogwash,” the source says.

“We are told Tigawalagana lives either in Kenya or Tanzania and sneaks in twice a month and spends about three days at his home each time. He crosses into Uganda on Lake Victoria with a speed boat. He even comes with other passengers and lands at Waka Waka landing site in Bugiri district, or Bwonha in Mayuge,” the source claimed.

We also visited Tigawalana’s father, Badru Ikoba, and asked if he has seen him around.

“I have never seen or heard from my son since he disappeared. I have searched for him all over. What can I do? I don’t know whether he is alive or dead. Maybe he will return one day,” Ikoba said.

Threats to witnesses.

Another member of Musiitwa’s family said that he lives in fear because of the constant threats send to them.

“I was advised by a person in Mulago Hospital while I was chasing for the death certificate not to continue with this case. The old man I found in Mulago said the case is risky and the murderers are heartless,” the source said.

The relative, who also stood as a witness, says he was hunted down for two years.

“I ran away from home,” the source said. “Musiitwa’s seven children suffered because they were young when they were orphaned. Fortunately, they grew up and are now working. His wife was pregnant with the youngest son and now that boy is in senior four…,” the source said.

Musiitwa’s death over the political competition was uncalled for and hurt so many. He had a private primary school offering quality education but it collapsed after he died.

According to Erinah Nazinda, who takes care of the Musiitwa home in Bugadde Village, Kityerera county, the deceased left a two-roomed house which the assailants attempted to destroy. They succeeded in burning part of the house but the widow rebuilt it and added on more structures to let, using a bank loan. She is still paying back the loan.