Exactly 14 years ago, on November 29, 2007, Joseph Musasizi Kifefe, a younger brother to opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye, was pronounced dead at Mulago National Referral Hospital.
Time was 11am.
His brother Dr Besigye, then the FDC President fresh from an election that shook Museveni, had gone to purchase drugs at a nearby pharmacy, according to reports.
Musasizi, known as Saasi among his colleagues, had been admitted at Mulago on a Sunday. Three days later, on a Wednesday, he was wheeled into the Intensive Care Unit. He didn’t make it.
Although his death was attributed to kidney failure, his family and the opposition figures of the time blamed Saasi’s death of his prolonged detention and alleged hindrances that made it impossible for the activist to be flown to South Africa for specialized treatment.
Besigye, a medical doctor by training, was quoted as saying he believed his brother would have lived longer had he not been incarcerated for many months.
Saasi’s wife Christine also complained that High Court had held Musasizi’s passport, making it impossible for him to travel abroad.
Politicians such as then leader of opposition Prof Ogeng Latigo and Kampala Central MP Erias Lukwago were quoted by government newspaper The New Vision as blaming Saasi’s death of political persecution.
“It is a very unfortunate thing. It’s extremely depressing to Besigye because both he and Musasizi have been victims of political unrest and incarceration,” said Latigo. “When will this suffering and injustice end. You can have a political opponent but that person is as human as you are.”
“Government should explain how suspects get sick in prison lose their lives,” demanded Lukwago.
Saasi’s death came only months after his detention.
The following is what The New Vision‘s Anne Mugisa compiled about Saasi’s final months on earth:
EVENTS THAT LED TO SAASI’S DEATH
By Anne Mugisa
Below is a recount of the events that took place since Kifefe was arrested in November 2004 on suspicion that he was collecting money from PRA sympathisers and passing it on to the PRA to purchase arms for rebel activity
-November 26, 2004: Kifefe and other suspects were charged with treason and concealment of prison. It was alleged that between December 2003 and October 2004 Kifefe mobilised support and provided intelligence information to the PRA in Kampala.
He allegedly committed the offences in Kampala, Mpigi, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Rukungiri and Kasese districts.
Kifefe together with his co-accused are remanded at Luzira Prison pending trial. The suspects later applied for bail.
-November 15, 2005: The High Court granted them bail. However, they were not released until June 15, 2006, but they were arrested outside the Court. A series of court battles followed in the High Court and the Constitutional Court as the suspects and the State filed petitions and counter petitions over the failed bail.
-In 2006, the treason trial against Kifeefe and his co-accused started at the High Court. Several witnesses were called, including former rebels of the LRA, who claimed that the PRA was collaborating with Kony’s rebels.
-The defence lawyers went to the Constitutional Court to block the former rebels who had been granted amnesty from testifying. However, they lost the battle and the trial is still pending.
-On March 1, 2007, he was released, sparking off drama at the High Court as security agents re-arrested him.
-Kifefe was taken to Bushenyi over murder charges. Together with two other suspected People’s Redemption Army rebels. They were accused of murdering John Byarugaba in Bushenyi on July 17, 2002. [It was said that Byarugaba neither existed nor was he killed].
On April 9, Kifefe who had been detained at Nyamushekyera Prison, was reported ill.
-He had scabies and could not attend the court. Shortly after that, he was transferred to Mulago Hospital where he was admitted for sometime. While in Prison, his lawyers applied for bail on account of his poor health.
-On June 12, 2007: The High Court granted him bail on account of grave illness. The medical report from Prison said the cost of treating Kifeefe was very high and that his care should be shared by others.
-The High Court bonded him at sh5m not cash. Shortly after that, he was discharged from hospital and his family started taking care of him.
-November 28, 2007: Col. Besigye rushed him to the hospital in a critical condition. It was not clear what he was suffering from.
-On November 29: He died of kidney failure at Mulago Hospital.
Additional Reporting & Archive works: Courtesy