December 03, 2018, started like other working days when Teddy Nantongo went on usual errands of hawking second-hand clothes in areas of Entebbe and the neighborhood. Nantongo and her current boyfriend Edward Serubiri carry out a similar business of hawking clothes, hence used to leave a 10-year old son Roy Odwe at their home in Busambaga- Entebbe municipality. However, the boy went missing since then, only to discover the remains of his body on Thursday May, 28, 2020.
Dumped in a private forest at Katabi-Busambaga, Odwe’s remains were found by Abdul Jjuuko and his colleague who were clearing the bushes around the eucalyptus forest. “At first i thought, it was a dog’s skeleton only to realise, there were clothes and sandals,” narrated Jjuuko. When the area leaders were notified, they positively identified the boy hence contacting his parents.
On arrival, Nantongo confirmed that the remains were of her son. “He was wearing a black pair of shorts, red jersey, black sandals and a blue rosary plus the house keys, all of which were found at the scene,” intimated a tearful Nantongo.
How Odwe went missing
According to Nantongo, on a fateful day, she received a message from a telephone number 0704510053 informing her that Odwe was taken. “The number is registered in the names of Ismael Mutyaba and the owner was demanding for Sh2million as a ransom in order to release my son,” Natongo stated earlier.
After registering the case of a missing person vide SD Ref: 11/03/12/2018, Nantongo and friends went to Canan estates -Busambaga where the kidnapper had proposed for a meeting. “To prove that he was around, he sent a message rightly describing how i was dressed. Then a certain man came and bypassed me several times without saying a word, and on the fourth time, policemen who had hidden in the bush, silently grabbed and whisked him away,” narrated Nantongo.
Edward Serubiri, a boyfriend to Nantongo said, upon taking the suspect to the nearby police post, the kidnapper kept texting, inquiring where Nantongo was.
Why police failed to find the missing boy
A source at Entebbe police privy to investigation, said the first operation failed, blaming it on the relatives and friends of Nantongo. “We arrested the first suspect stealthily without anyone noticing but when we went back for the second time, some friends of the mother came following us, and when we took cover, they went across the estates and grabbed a certain man of Sudanese nationality who was seated at the doorway of his home,” narrated a source within police circles.
“We suspect that during the commotion, the real kidnapper fled,” remarked the police officer.
However, Onesmus Mwesigwa the (then) OCIID at Entebbe police station, declined to reveal the names of the suspect whom police had earlier arrested, saying it’d distort the ongoing operation of recovering the boy. “There are several security agencies on board, and we still have hope of recovering the boy alive,” Mwesigwa had earlier assured. However, police among other security organs failed to trace for the kidnappers, until the boy’s body was discovered on Thursday last week. It also remains unclear whether the first suspect was released or charged in courts of law.
Another source within the security circles, blamed the delay to track the kidnappers, on machines of network operators, which she described as being “down” hence the slow process. However, Nantongo, Odwe’s mother contends that the kidnapper(s) kept contacting her for close to two weeks. “Does police want to tell us, all that time, the network operating machines were still down, as they allege,” questioned Nantongo.
Sserubiri, Nantongo’s boyfriend intimated of how the Chieftaincy of Military Investigations (CMI) had later located the caller in areas odf Mbarara, Western Uganda. “But still, we do not know why the investigations seemingly met a dead end,” wondered Sserubiri.
Through the text messages sent to Nantongo (and seen by this reporter), the kidnappers kept assuring the mother that her son was still alive. They continued demanding for a ransom of Sh2m until their phone number went off in 2019. With the current strict guidelines which require every phone-owner to register their simcards under respective names, it remains not convincing why a team of joint security operatives failed to trace for Odwe’s kidnappers, only for his dead body to surface 18months later.
Prior to his kidnap, Roy Odwe had been studying P.3 from Katabi infant school, in Entebbe municipality. His mother Nantongo and father, only identified as Eric, had divorced six years ago before the father went back to his hometown in Lira, Northern Uganda.