Sitting down at his office at the Post Office Annex building on Kampala Road, (Rtd) Col Fred Bogere welcomes us for the interview.
After surviving the jungles, the former National Resistance Army (NRA) Bush War fighter almost got killed when he returned to living life on the streets of Kampala. This was around the time President Museveni and his NRA fighters took over power in 1986.
He says Kampala was calm at the time, although stealing of cars was rampant. At the time, newly imported second-hand cars were called Nagoya. Bogere remembers that far away in Karamoja sub-region, cattle rustling was the order of the day while smuggling was common at Kikagati on the Uganda-Tanzania border.
The attempt on his life happened at about 10pm, Bogere says, as he drove back to his home in Bugolobi from an evening out at the national theatre. Everything seemed normal until he suddenly saw two men armed with guns, standing in the middle of the road near Meat Packers on Old Port Bell Road.
Before he could understand what was going on, the two men opened fire, shooting towards him. To escape the fire, Bogere swerved the car to his right, opened the door and rolled on the ground.
As the firing continued, Bogere, now taking advantage of the cover of dark, started shooting back with his pistol.
“They had bigger guns but I put them at a disadvantage. Though they continued shooting, they could not get me,” Bogere says.
The two assailants, realising that they could not get him, decided to withdraw towards the kraal at Meat Packers before jumping over the fence and fleeing.
As the two withdrew, Bogere got a chance to get away and ran towards the police workshop. But at the workshop the policemen on duty refused to let him in.
Working at the time as the Brigade Intelligence Officer of the 157 Brigade that covered Kampala, Mukono, Mityana, Luweero, Masaka and present-day Butambala, Bogere says he was not on duty the night the shooting happened. He could not call anyone to come to his rescue because he had left his walkie-talkie at home.
He later sought help from soldiers at Summit View in Kololo who on arrival helped him get back to the car and escorted him to Bugolobi.
Bogere was, however, surprised that though a volley was fired towards him, not even a bullet hit the car.
Following the incident, the army tried to follow up the matter and the tracks led them to Mbuya Barracks.
To date, Col Bogere, a lawyer with Majori, Bogere & Mutakirwa Advocates, has never known what the motive of the assailants was.
The story of Col Fred Bogere escaping an attack is again told in a 1990 incident in which soldiers from Bombo Barracks killed five people travelling in a cream Toyota DX on the Bombo-Ndejje stretch.
The mid-morning incident claimed the lives of Martin Luther Kalibala, a Senior One student who had just joined the school; Sgt Jackson Musisi, Bogere’s aide; two women – a nurse and the mother of a Senior Four student called Lillian Nagadya – and a girl only identified as Zavarine who was going to Ndejje Secondary School to seek placement in S1.
Mr Stephen Musoke, a Physics teacher at Ndejje SS, recalls the incident. He says people then stopped offering others lifts for fear of being killed.
Both Musoke and Mr George William Semivule, the former Ndejje SS head teacher, think the killers were targeting then Maj Fred Bogere, the owner of the car. The killers, they think, were trying to settle a score with the camp commandant – Bogere.
They shot the soldier then turned their guns on the occupants of the vehicle, killing one after another.
“We found the bodies on the road. They were shot as they tried to flee,” Semivule recalls.
Bogere confirms that the car was his, but doubts that the assailants were targeting him. According to Bogere, he was neither working nor staying in Bombo Barracks as many people believed. He was staying in Bugolobi at the time.
According to him, his aide, Sgt Musisi who entrusted to him by his Bush War comrade Musisi Karampenge, was on pass leave after attending a senior command course.
Bogere, who received the news of the killing while in Kampala, says he had no intention of travelling to Ndejje that day.
Following the incident, Bogere found himself with three bodies at his house that day. Zavarine had travelled from Masaka to meet a teacher who was supposed to take her to Ndejje to secure a place.
The killers emerged from behind an anthill, stopped an on-coming tractor of Ndejje SS that was returning from fetching water. Next was the car Musisi was driving, in which all the occupants were killed. Semivule says the killers wanted to erase any sort of evidence. They suspect that Musisi must have mentioned their names.
“When we [NRA] had just come [to power] there was a lot of discipline. So if the guys who staged the ambush were ever found they knew they would face it rough,” Bogere explains as why his aide’s life was not spared.
Semivule thinks the assailants must have had personal vendettas to settle, since similar killings had taken place that placed soldiers at the scene.
The incident sparked a very difficult time for students of Ndejje SS, with students having to walk five kilometres from school to Bombo to board cars to Kampala.
The school administration also had to pay people to cut roadside bushes to ensure the road was safe for parents. Twenty seven years later, grass continues to be cut regularly on the road from Bombo to Ndejje SS, only that it is now done by the district.
Although Bogere thinks the assailants were NRA soldiers, neither the military nor police made headway in their investigations.
According to him the main clue in the case was erased with the killing of Sgt Jackson Musisi, who he says was not afraid to walk into direct fire.