Doomsday Cult Leader Could Be A Mental Case

Africa News Online, Panafrican News Agency, March 31, 2000

Kampala, Uganda (PANA) - The police in Uganda now fear that the exact number of people killed by the leaders of a religious sect in south-western Uganda might never be known.

In the latest development, police Thursday unearthed 81 bodies, including those of 44 children, on the property of a member of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, identified as Joseph Nyamurinda. Twenty-seven girls, 17 boys and 33 women were among the bodies pulled out from a large hole in the garden of the house.

Nyamurinda's house is in Rushojwa, about 35 km north-east of Kanungu, in neighbouring Bushenyi district. The mass grave is the fifth to be discovered since the 17 March fire in Kanungu, the cult's headquarters, which killed over 530 people.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that cult leader, Joseph Kibwetere, was a hospitalised mental patient until less than two years ago.

"He had an affective disorder. A cyclical thing. Up and down. Like manic depress," Dr. Fred Kigozi, executive director of Kampala's Butabika mental hospital, told a Kampala daily.

He said Kibwetere suffered from a serious mental illness that required him to be institutionalised for treatment.

Kigozi added that Kibwetere was released sometime in 1998. Medical experts say manic depression, also known as bipolar mood disorder in its more severe forms, causes a person to lose contact with reality and experience false beliefs, especially of grandeur ("I am the president"), ("I am God"). It could also be of a sexual nature or the patient could hear voices and see visions.

The illness also causes deep depression and suicide is the most common cause of death for people with manic depression.

Experts say that people with the illness are not aware of their actions and don't realise they are sick.

The illness can be treated but medical experts say if not diagnosed and treated, the impact of the illness can be devastating to the individual, others and society in general.

Kibwetere never returned to the hospital for treatment after being released.

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