More than 120 stranded at Namugongo shrine

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Ms Telezia Nabuzale is one of the more than two million pilgrims who made it to Namugongo at the weekend to pay tribute to the 45 Uganda Martyrs killed on Kabaka Mwanga’s orders.

But the 69-year old woman who trekked all the way from Sironko District in Kigwa, Busulani Sub-county is stranded with no transport to take her back home.
She is among the 121other pilgrims who are now stranded at the Uganda Martyrs Shrine Namugongo.

Other pilgrims walked from Arua, Busia, Bulambuli, Kayunga and Bukomasimbi districts are now under the care of the church.
The leader of the Sironko camp- a catechist, Mr Alex Magomu, visibly looked unbothered about lack of money to take him back home yesterday, having joined hundreds to celebrate the day.

He narrated to Daily Monitor that they came walking to Namugongo to praise and give thanks to God for the Uganda Martyrs, not to get stranded.

“We have even lost two people, a woman and a man who is mentally disturbed and only came to be prayed for to get well but we also have old and helpless women and men, huddled under our Pilgrims Tent, stranded,” said Mr Magomu.

He said some people failed to trace those they came with while others lost their money to pick pockets.

“And we have already appealed to the Uganda Martyrs Shrine organisers to come to their rescue and we are also trying to link them to other pilgrims who might be heading in their destinations,” said Mr Magomu.

Ms Puredensia Namukasa from Ssembabule, Centenary Parish under Masaka Diocese said they had boarded a taxi from Ssembabule Catholic parish with other parishioners and by the end of mass; she could no longer trace them.

Mr John Asiku, 68 from Manibe in Arua who was leading a group of 62 people who was also stranded at Namugongo said they were waiting for their bus having paid in advance but they were not picked.

A team from Busia was still sleeping in their tent when Daily Monitor visited them. They said they were not in a hurry to go back home.
Rev Father Vincent Lubega, the Namugongo Parish priest who doubles as the rector of the Catholic Shrine said confirmed they still have Pilgrims in the compound but down played it as a normal situation.

“We are working around the clock to ensure that everyone is back to their homes. And what I know is that there are those who still want to pray before they go away” said Rev Father Lubega.

Hundreds of other pilgrims were seen around the Martyrs Shrine compound, singing and praying as others danced outside the Catholic Shrine.

Rev Father Francis Muwonge, the administrative secretary at the Catholic shrine, said they had the best ever Uganda Martyrs Day Celebrations because they had learnt from the previous celebrations and perfected the occasion this time round.

“Everything happened as planned although we were over whelmed by the numbers. But the celebrations were highly successful and peaceful,” said Rev Father Muwonge.

Mr Emilian Kayima, Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, said 25 children were picked stranded after disappearing from their parents at Catholic and Protestant shrines on Saturday adding that 20 children had already been reunited with their parents.

“We are left with five children whom we are yet to get their relatives. We believe by close of business [Sunday] we shall have traced their relatives. We are keeping them at Kira Division police as we wait for their relatives,” Mr Kayima said.

He said there was only one adult who could not trace her relatives and was also taken to Kira police station.

Mr Kayima said police deployment supported by the Joint Anti- Terrorism Police and Special Forces Command plus the Uganda People’s Defense Forces was still at Namugongo monitoring the situation until the last person will leave the Shrine.

“And the traffic and mobile Police Patrol units would remain on guard around the Martyrs’ Shrines to ensure nothing alters their record,” said Mr Kayima.

Compiled by David Mafabi,
Joseph Kato
& Moses Ndaye

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