This year marked exactly 21 years since the kanungu massacre, where about 500 members of a religious sect were burnt to death.
Everything started when Joseph Kibwetere, a self-acclaimed prophet, and a staunch member of the Catholic church came up with a plan to form a religious sect called “The movement for the restoration of the ten commandments”. Together with three(3) other people, Credonia Mwerinde( a prostitute who had claimed she was looking to repent from her sins), Rev fr. Dominic Kataribaho(an ex-catholic priest), and John Kamagra, Joseph’s plan came to fruition and in 1989, the movement was formed.
The group grew rapidly, amassing a lot of crowd from the Ugandan population, and by the late 1990s, they had grown into a full-blown community. The major objective of the sect was to obey the 10 commandments. According to their teachings, “rapture” or “the Apocalypse” was by strictly following the 10 commandments of God. They forbade their members from doing a lot of things, including having sex and making use of soaps. Members did everything possible to avoid sin, and at times when they sinned, they would be instructed to recite the rosary 1000 times as punishment. They would regularly go to pray to a rock which they believed depicted Virgin Mary because according to them, the rock had a striking resemblance with Mary. Their leaders claimed to receive messages directly from the Virgin Mary through a telephone system.
According to some sources, the leaders of the sect had predicted that the world would come to an end in 1992, and that their members should prepare for the rapture/apocalypse. When 1992 came and had gone and nothing happened, they then predicted that it would end in 1995. However, 1995 reached, and again nothing happened,. They made a third prediction that the world would definitely end on 31st of December, 1999, yet again, nothing happened.
The unthinkable happened on the 17th of March, 2000. Over 500 members of the sect were gathered and locked in their church(where they were said to be having their last meal in preparation for the rapture), and burnt to death.
A few days after the event, up to 300 more bodies were discovered within the church premises, some were dumped in septic tanks while some were buried underground.
An investigation was launched, and it was determined to be a mass murder by the leaders of the religious sect after their predictions of the rapture/apocalypse failed to come to reality.
Up till today, no one knows the exact whereabouts of the leaders. Some believe that they were burnt together with their members, while some believe that they escaped.