FRANK GASHUMBA ON MAYOMBO'S DEATH
On May 02nd 2008, The Independent broke an exclusive story on Brig. Mayombo’s death. Read it, analyze it and judge for yourself who was behind Mayombo’s death
President Museveni received the report of the commission of inquiry into the death of the brigadier. The Independents Investigations team got exclusive access of the report.
On Thursday April 26, 2007, the Permanent secretary in the ministry of defence, brig .Noble Mayombo, was in his office at TISU on Wampawo Avenue in kololo.At one point between 3 and 4p.m he asked for tea. A soldier brought it to him. It was the first time in months that he was taking tea prepared at the office .And he was also the only senior army officer at TISU who drunk tea that evening.Taking office tea was an unusual lapse in his vigilance possibly even a tragic one since Mayambo always carried a tea flask to officer for fear of being poisoned. If someone was planning foul play at TISU ,the signs were already there. Two months earlier,Mayombo’s trusted military aid has been sent to jinja on a military course.Mayombo’s prior consent had not been sought. The aide used to check Mayombo’s food and prepare his tea at the office.When the aide left, Mayombo resorted to bringing his own tea to office in a closely guarded flask.Fears and rumours of army officers poisoning their rivals are widespread in the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF).Everyone is always on high alert. In this game of high stakes it is dangerous to trust even friends .
Mayombo had taken breakfast at home.He had also gone back home for home.He had also gone back home.He had also gone back home for lunch that day.On his way home home that evening, Mayombo visited his uncle, Kenneth Muhangura .Mayombo lived in bukoto, just before kabira country club .His uncle’s house almost opposite kabira.He ate two pieces of pork and drunk less than one third of a beer. Then he felt nauseated .So he excused himself to leave. But before he could enter the car. Immediately, he entered the car, he vomited again and again. When he reached home, his condition got worse. Within ten minutes, he was rushed to the nearest hospital-Kololo Hospital.
Mayombo later died in The Aga Khan Hospital Nairobi on May 1, 2007 after an air evacuation that delayed for three days.
At his burial, President Yoweri Museveni said Mayombo had been on a hit squad organized by a regional enemy-which some people interpreted to mean Rwanda and Rwanda’s Director of Intelligence Services,Dr.Emmanuel Ndahiro who was at the burial was deeply angered an expressed his feelings to Ugandan security. Security sources say that elements in the Sudan and DRC Congo security circles wanted Mayombo dead.
Immediately after Mayombo’s burial.Museveni set up a commission of inquiry headed by Mayombo’s close friends of many years, Bri.James Magira, currently armoured brigade commander in Masaka.Mugira’s commission concluded their investigations and handed the report to Museveni last November. Since then neither the public nor Mayombo’s family have received the report or even been told its contents .Why is the president holding unto untold report months after it was presented to him
The independent has looked at a summary of the report provided by close sources close to the state house . The report concludes that the death of Mayombo was due to natural causes specifically saying that he died of “multiorgan failure as a result of severe, acute, fulminating , hemorrhagic necrotizing pancreatitis was secondary to (caused by ) prescription medication for a” pre-existing ailment “ and that therefore was so severe that intensive medical treatment to save his life was unsuccessful.
The report says that there was an unanimity of expert medical opinion that “nothing more could have been done to save his life “ and goes on , “comprehensive toxicological test carried out in the world’s best laboratories ruled out poisoning as a contributing factor to his death . The report also says that the investigation looked at whether alcohol played any role in sparking off Mayombos pancreatitis condition but said they found no evidence of that .
The cause of then death was apparent negligence on the part of Mayombo‘s physician. A Cuban doctor called Lorenzo Lopez with the UPDF. In fact Lorenzo was suspended during the period of the investigation in order to “enable the investigations to go on smoothly.” Mayombo was not the only patient of Lorenzo since he has other UPDF patients he treats. The investigation found out that Lorenzo was putting Mayombo under very strong anti-retroviral medication, especially the use of the drug DDI but concluded that he did it out of ignorance and /or incompetence rather than out if malicious intent.
Over 40 people were interviewed during the investigation. These included the doctors that treated Mayombo before he was ill and when he was ill. Indeed, Mayombo had travelled to Spain in February 2007 where he had done a thorough medical checkup. Family members say that he got a clean bill of health those in investigation say that the team visited the hospitals in Spain and interviewed the doctor’s there. They say the doctors had noticed something going wrong. He had been some medication and asked to return to the hospital to check on progress after three months he died fifteen days before his scheduled return to Spain.
The team also interviewed the pathologist who did an autopsy on Mayombo’s body parts – liver kidneys and heart .the report says that from all the tests done there was no evidence of poison. Meanwhile immediately Mayombo fell ill, security operatives retrieved the flask at TISU from where he had taken tea and took it to Wandegeya for examining. Mayombo had also vomited in his hand chief who was also tested for traces of poison .The results from both tests were present to the investigating team and both showed no traces of poisoning
Regarding the food he ate at his uncles place report says that the pork had been roasted at a barbecue and everyone picked the meat randomly. None of the other people who ate the pork fell ill security operatives did not rescue the beer left in the bottle before he rushed from his uncles house –the housekeeper drunk it the investigations concluded that since housekeeper did not suffer from any illness, the beer must have been safe.
However observers’ say that this was the biggest limitation of the investigation .It relied on information and samples given to them by Ugandan security. this meant that if Uganda’s security operatives was involved in Mayombo’s death they would have predetermined the results of the investigation through the test samples provided and the stories and explanations provided to the investigation team .For example the body parts of Mayombo used during the investigation were not subjected to a DNA test to prove that they were not for somebody else. The story about the testing of the flask from which Mayombo had taken tea and the handkerchief in which he had vomited had all been done by the Uganda security.
Up to this day there was no evidence that the results given to the team were from the actual tests on the said flask and handkerchief. The investigating team for example did not do any DNA tests on the handkerchief to establish whether it was actually the one Mayombo had vomited in. Finally there was the question of whether the toxicological test s was comprehensive. For example, one of the toxicologist expressed suspicious to close Mayombo family member regarding the body parts that were tested- even suggesting that the best way to ascertain the authenticity of the test samples was actually to exhume the body.
Mayombo’s sudden illness and ultimate death sent shockwaves across the nation .in death he also defied. Queues of National Resistace Movement(NRM) bigwigs and top military brass in the country lined up to bid farewell. They gave orations and/or wrote obituaries full of glowing accounts of his life.Many of these speakers and writers were genuine.but also many were crying crocodile tears for Mayombo’s death because if they didn’t engineer it,atleast they were not sad about it.Indeed during the most critical moments of his life,Mayombo remained in a Ugandan hospital where there was not suffient care to save his life, the investigation report says that his pancreatitis was so severe that Mayombo ha d zero chances of recovery although doctors in Kampala had told the family that he had two out of ten chances.However,questions remain:he fall ill on Thursday April 26 2007.he was evacuated by the presidential jet to Aga khan hospital in Nairobi three days later almost at midnight on Monday morning and died on Tuesday May 1.What caused this usual delay? The answer to this question actually beg more questions.
Why did it take the government four critical days before they could evacuate Mayombo for better treat abroad? Upon him falling ill, the Israelis through Col.Amos Golan is a retired colonel from the Israel military, a major arms supplier to Uganda and close Golan. Golan is a retired colonel from the Israel military major arms supplier to Uganda and a close confidante to the President Museveni.He was introduced to Museveni.He was introduced to Museveni by Maj.Gen.Jim Muhwezi in the mid-1990s but later became a close friend of Museveni’s brother, Gen.Salim Saleh became distant.
Over the years, Golan has cultivated close ties with people at Defence.Whenever a new person is appointed to a powerful position at Defence, Golan is always quick to build relationship with them-from the Chief of Defence Forces to the minister, PS, the Chief of Logistics and Engineering, everyone, Golan’s closeness with many people at defense has increased Israel arms sale to Uganda. But it has also cause friction with other nations desiring to supply arms to Uganda-especially the United States.For example, in August 2003,the US Deputy Chief of Mission(DMC) protested formally to Museveni that Israelis are influencing Uganda Defence officials to supply arms to Uganda without tendering. IN a cable to Washington DC, The DCM accused the key Ugandan defence officials to corruption.
The Israelis were close to Mayombo and had given him a special gun-with his names inscribed on it.The only other person to get such a gift from the Israelis, sources say is President Museveni.Just before his death, Mayombo had told friends that he had been invited to visit Tel Aviv. The Israelites had planned a great welcome for him. Although he was excited, he was also afraid of how Museveni would take it.”Mzee obwaramanya kinu, nanyita,” (If President Museveni hears of this. He will kill me)Mayombo had told his close family.
There are many occasions when Mayombo would use this expression when speaking about Museveni.It is difficult to tell exactly what he meant. Although its literally meaning in Rutoro is “will kill me”, Batooro use this expression often casually to mean “will be angry with me”Mayombo had taken to the habit of using this expression on many occasions.
In any case, Mayombo fall ill on Thursday night and the Israelites offered to evacuate him to Tel Aviv on Friday.Isreali doctors were immediately on site to monitor his health status, take his test samples and pass them on to Israeli’s not clear whether these doctors were flown into the country or there were present by the time Mayombo fell ill. There was talk that the plane to evacuate Mayombo was on the runway and about to leave Tel Aviv. Others claimed it was aiborne.Suddenly the talk of a plane from Israel just evaporated. A voice hovered over Mayombo’s fate that seemed to have the plane from coming.
There was a team of doctors headed by the UPDF Director of Medical Services,Dr,James Makumbi and included others Ben Mbonye, Dr.Emmanuel Ssekasanvu, one Opio, a Russian called Edwardo, a Cuban called Kassim,who were overseeing Mayombo. According to the Investigations Report, Mayombo’s condition was too delicate to fly him out of the country. According to the doctors, the journey to transfer Mayombo from Kololo to International Hospital, Kampala (IHK) had been bad enough for the young brigadier. They reasoned that moving him in such juice –which make the pancreatic spill over other parts of the body. The pancreatic juice is so strong that it can even crash a bone.
But the effort to evacuate Mayombo persisted even after talk of an Israel evacuation had evaporated.Steven Ugandan High Commission in South Africa offered to help .Kashaija had cultivated excellent relations with the South African army who offered a plane fitted with medical kits to the quality of a flying hospital. The family was told the plane was waiting final instruction from Kampala to fly to Entebbe and rescue Mayombo. That was on Saturday morning. The plane did not come. Who was so powerful as to stop it?
Thus on Saturday evening, Mayombo’s family and friends, frustrated by the inexplicable failure for the plane from South Africa began to discuss a private charter.
They were unhappy that all this time, President Museveni was conspicuously absent, yet Mayombo had always seen him as a father and a mentor and was so loyal to the President to the point of brutalizing his own brother, Okwir Rabwini,in 2001 in the services of Museveni’s politics.Museveni was in Kamuli district campaigning against opposition candidate Salaam Musumba.He would fly back to Kampala every night and to Kamuli every morning. Only Museveni’s son, Maj.Muhozi Keinerugaba,was present all the time communicating on his cell phone. Why did Museveni fail to appear on a death bed of someone everyone thought was very close to him? Mayombo’s close friends and family agonized. Saturday night past and Sunday morning came: that was the third day of Mayombo’s illness.
On Sunday, the issue of the presidential jet was mooted and immediately accussed.It took an entire day to prepare the plane to fly. It was not until close to midnight late Sunday night that Mayombo was put on the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi. Although it is fitted with oxygen, the jet has no medical kit.
Earlier, doctors had claimed Mayombo’s condition was to delicate for him to be flown. They had also claimed that even a plane fitted with hospital equipment could not do the job’s the questions stand out. If Mayombo was too delicate to travel on Friday or Saturday when the Israelis and the South Africans offered the best places for such travel on Friday or Saturday when the Israelis and the South Africans offered the best planes for such an emergency equipment-on Sunday night? People at the runaway at Entebbe Airport on the night when Mayombo was evacuated (who included one of the writers of this story) witnessed the scene on how the young brigadier’s delicate body was literally manhandled-forcefully pushing him into the jet.
The second question came with the choice of the hospital. To date no one in Mayombo’s immediate family knows how Aga Khan Hospitals was chosen.However, his cousin, Roger Baguma, his sister Gertrude and wife Juliet went with him. Upon arrival in Nairobi, they found people from Uganda most likely from security agents, mainly all over hospital, all the time talking on their cellphones.Mayombo was rushed into the emergency care and put on a dialysis machine. After few hours, the doctors reported to the family that his situation had greatly improved. The family went to bed relieved. But next morning, the doctors told Mayombo’s family during the night the machine had collapsed. What happened exactly; was it in an accident or a plot? The investigation report the dialysis machine was removed from him for cleaning. Many questions remaining about Mayombo’s death; Who were the people in Nairobi? Who sent them? What frustrated the plane from Israel and another from South Africa to evacuate him? Why did it take so long to offer the Presidential jet to save Mayombo’s life?
By Frank Gashumba