Kanungu ‘Kibweteere’ Cult Massacre Orphans Petition Parliament For Compensation

Kanungu ‘Kibweteere’ Cult Massacre Orphans Petition Parliament For Compensation

By Frank Kamuntu

Kampala: A group of orphans whose parents perished 20 years ago in March 2000 in a cult massacre in Kanungu district Western Uganda have petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga over being denied access to their parents’ burial site and an investigation report into the incident.

Chairing the Wednesday, 26 August 2020 plenary sitting, Kadaga said that Parliament in July 2019 resolved to have government provide financial assistance to the affected persons and for the Prime Minister to present a report on the investigation.

“I wrote to the government on 2 September 2019 and on 17 February 2020 on the same issue requesting the Prime Minister to meet the group and discuss their compensation,” she added.

Kadaga said that the group claims they met President Yoweri Museveni who gave them assurance of compensation on 6 February, 2016 at the Kanungu Play Grounds in the western district of Kanungu.

She directed the Prime Minister to present to Parliament a progress report on the matter within two weeks so that it can be handled expeditiously.



To confirm the matter Kadaga posted on her facebook “I have received a letter from Kanungu orphans group whose parents perished in the Kibwetere incident in March 2000. They indicate that they have been denied access to the sites where their parents were buried and despite several investigations, no report has been provided to them.

This matter has been discussed severally in Parliament. I subsequently wrote on 2nd September 2019 and 17th February 2020 on the same issue. In both letters, I requested the Prime Minister to among others, meet the group and discuss the issue of their compensation. They claim that the President gave them assurance of compensation in 2016.

I therefore direct that the Prime Minister presents to this House action taken on this matter within two weeks on the Kibwetere investigation.”

How Kibwetere Led Over 1000 People To Death.

Exactly 20 years ago, in south-western Uganda’s Kanungu district, christians were locked inside a church, with the doors and windows nailed shut from the outside and Kibweteere set fire on it.

Who is Joseph Kibweteere?

Joseph Kibwetere was one of the leaders of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, a group that splintered from the Roman Catholic Church in Uganda and became infamous after 778 of its members were found dead.

Although Joseph died in the incident, the Ugandan police shortly afterwards issued a warrant for arrest against the other leaders of the group. In 2014 it was announced by the Uganda Police Force that there were reports that Kibweteere was hiding in Malawi.

The cult sprang to life during a time when Uganda suffered from both religious and political upheaval. The strongest of which emphasised miracles and Marian apparitions.

In 1984 Kibwetere claimed to be experiencing sightings of the Virgin Mary. This vision had been brought to him by Credonia Mwerinde.

It is believed that 778 members died in the fire. However, six mass graves were found on the cult land measuring up to 48 hectares.

More than 280 bodies were found and recovered from these graves, bringing to the total death toll up to over 1000.

Peter Benanga, 17, was the sole survivor of the fire. He claims he moved out of the compound in search of food since every member was taking part in mandatory fasting.

The cult preached millennial Armageddon, claiming that the world would end on December 31, 1999.

Believers were encouraged to pay their debts, make peace with other people, and sell off their property in preparation for the death.

The prophecy did not come to pass bringing mistrust among the believers.

In March 2000 the group began slaughtering cattle and buying massive amounts of Coca-Cola. These events did not initially raise alarm, but they were preparation for a feast before death. On March 17, Kibweteere apparently died in the group’s mass suicide. A member of Kibweteere’s family stated that Joseph’s actions were completely influenced by Credonia Mwerinde.

A great deal remains unclear about his story and the movement. The BBC reported that Kibweteere had been treated for bipolar disorder a year or so before the group suicide. At the time the Ugandan authorities considered him a fugitive and mass-murderer because they believed him to have escaped. The date and nature of the apocalypse they expected is debated.

There is one camp that indicates they believed it would come in 1999 and that the 2000 suicide was caused by the failure of that prophecy. This would seem confirmed by some of their activities of 1999, but in their literature 2000 is often seen as the end year. The nature of his role and significance to the events is also disputed. Due to the circumstances of events, satisfactory answers to these and other questions may never be forthcoming. Kibwetere did all this in the Kanungu district in western Uganda.

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