Mar 19, 2017

Many wounds remain unhealed 17 years after Kibwetere cult mass murder

Families who lost relative and friends are still haunted by this day day.

March 19, 2017

A shadowy doomsday cult in Uganda, led by an enigmatic man called Joseph Kibwetere, brought the small Ugandan district of Kanungu to the world's attention on March 17 2000 after reports of a mass murder by fire started trickling through.

Over the days that followed the scale of the horror wrought by the cult became shockingly apparent after over 700 people were discovered to have perished in the fire at the Kanungu church and hundreds more bodies were unearthed at different properties owned by the cult. In the end over 1,000 cult members were confirmed dead and many have been missing since.

The killings were the work of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, which thrived amongst the impoverished peasantry in the remote Kanungu district and other parts of South western Uganda.

17 years after this incident, government has not released a report on the investigation it conducted into what transpired and it still remains unclear whether the cult leaders; Joseph Kibwetere, Fr Dominic Kataribabo, Father Joseph Kasapurali and Credonia Mwerinde perished in the fire or escaped to safety after fleecing their victims of all their money and possessions.

Leaders of the cult had earlier on claimed that the world was coming to end on December 31st 1999. They asked their followers to sale property, hand over all the proceeds as they prepared their souls to meet God. When this did not happen, the leaders are thouht to have orchestrated a plan to kill the cult members.

Families who lost relative and friends are still haunted by this day day.

Residents of the area say that for weeks after the fire, the entire area was filled with the sickening smell of burning human flesh and later the smell would become one of putrid decomposing flesh.

The site of the massacre is still distingushable from the sorroundings and even part of the structure in which hundreds met their fiery end still stands. People in the area point to a deep in the ground, which they say was used as a dumping site for those killed earlier on, before the inferno on March 17th.

Some leaders in the area now want the 48 hectares of land, on which the massacre site is located, to be developed into a memorial for those who perished. They believe that it will serve as a both a tourist attraction and an centre from which the visitors can learn about the effects of dangerous religious beliefs.

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