Did Mwerinde Kill Other Kanungu Cult Leaders?

Africa News Service/December 10, 2000
By Daniel E. Martin

Kampala - New reports have emerged indicating that Sister Cledonia Mwerinde, a co-architect of the Kanungu cult deaths in Uganda in March, may have killed cult leaders Joseph Kibwetere and Dominica Kataribaabo and then fled.

Initially, the Uganda government was under the impression that all three had escaped after masterminding the deaths of more than 1,000 cult members on March 17, and had launched an international hunt which is yet to yield any results. However, new evidence gathered by the Britain's Channel 4 Television, based on testimony of surviving members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments and other Kanungu residents, indicates that Mwerinde escaped alone in a vehicle, in the early hours of March 17 - the day some 500 cult members were incinerated in a church building.

The cult's survivors say Mwerinde sold off cult property without the knowledge of the two other leaders, Kataribaabo and Kibwetere, whom she could have duped to their deaths in the fire. According to one Kanungu businessman, Mwerinde had earlier made inquiries about purchasing a vehicle, the one she is said to have escaped in.

On the day she escaped, Kataribaabo and Kibwetere, said to have been very close to Mwerinde, were not seen with her. She is instead said to have escaped with her sister, two children and another man in the pick-up, which left the town at about 5.30 am.

"All that is the subject of investigation," police spokesman Eric Naigambi told The EastAfrican. "We cannot say that they are dead or alive."

A documentary film produced by the TV station puts money and greed at the centre of Mwerinde's motives for forming the group, and eventually destroying it. One local businessman is quoted as saying that just days before March 17, Mwerinde consulted him on the sale of the cult's property, which included vast tracts of land, vehicles and buildings.

International arrest warrants have been issued for the cult leaders, and a reward of Ush2 million ($1,078) per head offered.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.