PALISSA, Uganda (Morning Star News) — A Christian father of five in eastern Uganda who supported 10 children whose families had disowned them for leaving Islam was killed on Wednesday night (Dec. 2).
One of three men who attacked Patrick Ojangole at 9:30 p.m. reproached him for failing to heed a warning to cease his Christian activities before the Christian was killed, said a witness who was with Ojangole and escaped. Ojangole was 43.
Ojangole and the witness, a friend known only as Muluga, were about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from their home village of Kashebai after traveling by bicycle to visit Ojangole’s in-laws in Palissa when two Muslim women stopped them. The women were fully covered in burqas as they sat on the roadside.
“Because it was late in the evening, we thought they needed some help from us, so we stopped, and while we were still talking with them, a man arrived and started asking for our identification cards,” Muluga said.
Believing he was a policeman, they produced their national ID cards, and immediately two masked men appeared, he said.
“The two women immediately pulled out swords from their burqas and gave them to the men, and there we realized that we were in the hands of dangerous, armed men, so we had to cooperate with them as they forced us to leave the bicycle and then dragged us to the swamp close to the river,” Muluga said.
He reported that one of the masked men said, “Patrick, you have not heeded our warning to stop your Christian activities of changing our children to your religion.” Hence it is possible that at least one of the assailants knew Ojangole, or that Muslims he knew had hired the men to attack him. Muluga said they seemed interested only in Ojangole and may have asked for his ID card to ensure he was the one they sought.
“The attackers were not so harsh towards me,” he said. “Their efforts were directed at Patrick.”
As the interrogation continued, the two women who had stayed behind on the roadside arrived.
“The three men then got hold of Patrick and, fearing for my life, I managed to escape as the two women pulled out about four swords that they had placed inside their clothes,” he said. “I heard some commotion taking place and one loud cry while I was 50 meters away.”
Muluga immediately notified a Christian leader and police. Early the next morning he and the Christian leader went to the site.
“We went to the place of the incident and found Patrick’s body in a pool of blood in the Kashebai area, and his body badly mutilated,” said the Christian leader, whose name is withheld for security reasons.
Police are investigating and searching for the attackers, while fear has gripped Kashebai village residents, he said.
Ojangole, a member of a local Pentecostal church, leaves behind a wife and five children, two boys and three girls ranging in age from 7 to 16.
“Patrick was a very committed Christian and a hard-working farmer,” the Christian leader said. “From his farm work, he used to support 10 children from Muslim families who had been ostracized by their families.”
The bloodshed was the latest in a series of attacks on Christians in eastern Uganda. The father of a young Muslim woman in east Uganda on Nov. 12 tried to beat her to death after she became a Christian, but community leaders intervened and limited him to disowning her, sources said. Kibida Muyemba learned that his 21-year-old daughter, Namusisi Birye, had put her faith in Christ at an evangelistic campaign held that day in Nandere village, Kadama Sub-county, Kibuku District, 41 kilometers (25 miles) west of Mbale, church leaders told Morning Star News. Birye and a man in the traditional dress of an imam confessed openly to receiving Christ, they said, and angry Muslims cut the event short.
On Oct. 19 Muslims in Kalampete village, Kibuku District who were angry at a Christian for leaving Islam killed his wife, a month after his brother was killed for the same reason. Mamwikomba Mwanika, mother of three adult children and five others ranging in age from 17 to 9, died en route to a hospital after Muslims unknown to her dragged her from her home at about 9 p.m. and assaulted her, survivors said.
Her husband’s brother, Samson Nfunyeku, was killed in the village on Sept. 23 after flaring tempers cut short a religious debate he’d had with Islamic scholars.
In Nsinze village, Namutumba District, a Muslim beat and left for dead his wife and 18-year-old son on Aug. 11 after learning they had converted to Christianity, area sources said. Issa Kasoono beat and strangled his wife, Jafalan Kadondi, but she survived, said a source who requested anonymity. He said other relatives joined Kasoono in beating her and their two sons, Ibrahim Kasoono, 18, and Ismael Feruza, 16, though the younger son managed to escape with only bruises on his arm.
The wife of a former sheikh was poisoned to death on June 17 after she and her husband put their faith in Christ in Nabuli village, Kibuku District. Namumbeiza Swabura was the mother of 11 children, including a 5-month-old baby.
In Kiryolo, Kaderuna Sub-County, Budaka District on March 28, five Muslims gang-raped the 17-year-old daughter of a pastor because the church leader ignored their warnings that he stop worship services, she said.
About 85 percent of the people in Uganda are Christian and 11 percent Muslim, with some eastern areas having large Muslim populations. The country’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.