Kanungu Dead Poisoned

New Vision (Kampala)

July 28, 2000
By Matthias Mugisha

Kampala - Most of the hundreds of the people who died at the hands of a doomsday cult at Kanungu early this year, had been poisoned, police said on Thursday.

"The bodies which were found buried in the pits, had been poisoned, Police pathologists have told us. But we have not got the detailed reports from forensic experts of the type of poisoning because we have not yet paid to get the results. Those that were strangled were few," Police spokesman Asuman Mugenyi told AFP, a French news agency. The final death toll in the cult killings has now settled at 778, Mugenyi added.

On March 17, about 500 members of the cult lead by Joseph Kibwetere, excommunicated priest Dominic Kataribaabo and a former barmaid, Credonia Mwerinde, burnt to ashes in their church whose doors and windows were nailed shut in Kanungu, Rukungiri district in western Uganda.

It was then believed that petrol, and acid was used in the inferno. The theory of a mass suicide was changed to mass murder when decomposing bodies were discovered in pits with signs of strangulation. Some bodies had stab wounds.

Hundreds of bodies were discovered in various places in the country including Kampala where the doomsday cult had branches.

Earlier reports had suggested that most of the members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God had been strangled to death, a theory lent credence by the presence of twists of banana fibre around the necks of many victims.

"There are no more possibilities of any more bodies being found. There is nothing else. We have searched everywhere," Mugenyi told the news agency.

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