The 50th Arrest; Part II
A police pickup truck parked at Kiira road police Source: Getty Images

The 50th Arrest; Part II

Kiira Road Police was a colonial station. It stood on old walls that had long been washed down in dirt and writings.

A plucked out seat from an old matatu welcomed you to it’s reception that was often manned by junior officers who sat behind a grey paint table littered with many books of records.

There was an old grey-paint door that separated the reception from its holding cell, a small, four-walled room with a dampening stench.

Suspects, the small fish, would be thrown in here and closed in with browning metal bar rods shackled with a big silver padlock.

The big fish, mostly politicians arrested at demonstrations would be kept in the office of the OC Station, a bit better polished, with a comfortable sofa seat and a daily serving of the newspapers.

Besigye however, would be placed in the cell – with the ‘small fish’. On many occasions, he’d be asked to remove his shoes and walk on the floor. He always had a pair of slippers in his car for such moments.

Just after the cell was a container-shed hut, boxed into a small compound and covered with growing vegetation over it’s roof. It served partly as the traffic police office and partly as the waiting room for bribes.

A large ring of bribery ran through the station.

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A police pickup truck parked at Kiira road police Source: Getty Images

On the morning before Besigye was driven there, officers walked around in pensive mood. A corporal kept charge of the OC’s phone that co-ordinated with the commander of the metropolitan who monitored the activities of Besigye back in town.

He’d pace with the phone down the verandah to interrupt the Officer in Charge with ‘important’ calls.

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Kato, Besigye’s long time driver, knew the drill all too well. Reach the police roadblock, raise up the window glasses, lock the car and open the roof for his boss to peer his head through and engage with the force.

He was experienced at this. He’d done it over and over again. Even on the fateful day in 2011 when his boss’ glasses were smashed, spray and gas passed through, brutally dragged out of the car and placed under the seats of a waiting van, Kato had stayed in the car, firm behind the wheels and coughing supposedly choking on the teargas.

He kept a kempt haircut above his square head. Many times, his fashion sense revolved around stripped shirts, khaki pants, brown boots and black or brown leather jackets.

On this day, he’d kept a black one (jacket) around his seat in the white Landcruiser vehicle. He peeped occasionally to his boss, the leading opposition candidate in the election, and structured sentences inaudible to the people on the outside.

A police ring had been formed on Luwum street, blocking Besigye from accessing the lower side of the town where many small-scale traders and taxi touts were. These were a big support base for him.

Besigye had earlier announced he’d go through the place and have a rally in Kisekka market, a makeshift of temporary structures that were majorly run by mechanics.

Kato knew they’d not reach. But he drove eitherway and parked right infront of the mounted human roadblock as he’d always done.

Besigye defied the police and sat back in his car waiting on police’s next action. 7 minutes on, a gathering crowd around his car would chant that he walks to Luwum street to ‘eat lunch’.

There was deafening elation when the back seat door of his landcruiser popped open. A pointed black shoe peered through beneath a hugging pair of black socks that would be covered with khaki pants when he finally stood his two feet firm.

Besigye was about 5 feet tall with shrugging shoulders. He wore an impressionable smile that carved out between two stretching wrinkles running down his dark face. A set of three veins threaded through the left side of his face as he stretched out two fingers to the air.

His momentary ululations were cut short when a loud bang sounded from right infront of him.

“Colonel jangu” a man, in black attire would drag him into a small human body ring that had been formed to protect him.

Three more successive bangs would go off forcing the crowd that had gathered to scamper into shops and corridors on the busy Luwum street.

“Kale mutandise olutalo..” a woman grudgingly mumbled as she ran past the police.

The air was filled with smoke and in a few minutes its effects would be felt.

Occasional coughs and sneezes of running people would be heard. A barrage of stones rained down from the buildings around the scene forcing the police to cower into shields that they’d earlier carried.

From across, a group of policemen advanced towards Besigye, who by now, was squatting surrounded by his supporters.

More teargas canisters were being fired into the air, into buildings and cars that were around the scene.

The shield around Besigye walked him towards his car as the police drew closer and in a split second, just before he could get into the car, a canister fell on the feet of three men around him.

Distracted in the smoke, an officer stretched out and grabbed Besigye…..

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Besigye faces off with a police officer shortly before the fracas that led to his arrest Source: AP

In Part 3; The drive to Kiira Road Police, the release and the return of Besigye to Kampala

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