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Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God

Articles in the LOOKOUT section of this website span a number of decades and are re-published on behalf of Adrian van Leen for research purposes. Original dates are being added to articles so as to place them in their correct historical setting(s). Adrian has endeavoured to be as fair and accurate as possible at the time of the original writing, but please note that the original article information may no longer reflect the subsequent or current actions, values, beliefs, positions, opinions, teachings or policies held by individuals, groups and/or organisations referred to in the original published article at the time of writing. As people change and move on, the same often applies to related Internet links; some links referred to in articles may have been changed or may no longer be available online.

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The year 2000 was definitely NOT a ‘ho-hum’ year for members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (MRTCG) in Uganda, Africa. This group was a breakaway from the Roman Catholic Church, with several of its leaders claiming visions and communications from the Virgin Mary about Jesus bring the world to an end in January 2000, and taking his followers (members of the MRTCG) to heaven. The main leaders of the group were Credonia Mwerinde, Joseph Kibweteere, Dominic Kataribabo, Joseph Kasapurari and John Kamagara. Long before January 2000, the leaders had encouraged the members to hand over their possessions (what little they had), because soon they would not need anything - all of heaven would be theirs.

The leaders appeased the concerned members when Jesus did NOT come for the in January 2000. They managed to convince them that Jesus was delaying his arrival out of love, so that more could have a chance of getting to heaven. By mid-March 2000, their efforts at appeasement were in serious jeopardy. Members were finally brought together to sing, praise and pray for Jesus’ arrival on March 17.. Some 530, mostly women and children entered the group’s main worship centre. They were not aware that they windows had been sealed and nailed shut. Apparently, after they began their singing, the doors were locked shut behind them, petrol poured and sprayed around and then set alight. The fiery deaths of the large crowd ended with piles of ash and bones, some fused by the enormous heat, near the doors. They had tried to escape, but were murdered in the conflagration.

After the police had sorted through the remains of the fiery tragedy, they began to discover more bodies in ditches, drains, septic tanks and pits in the compound that had housed their worship centre. But that was not where it finished. The group also had other compounds, scattered around Uganda. More and more bodies were found at these other compounds.

The sheer numbers of corpses, the time in discovering them, growing difficulties in identifying deteriorating bodies in the tropical heat, threatened to overwhelm police and forensic authorities and facilities. Even with some outside help the task became too much. Eventually the police settled on an official total figure of just under 800. Most of those who had not been burned to death had apparently been poisoned. At the time, we monitored regular updated reports and tallies of recovered remains and (like others trying to monitor the tragedy) came to the conclusion that the official police statistics had been deliberately scaled back. It seems that actual deaths in this group numbered probably over a thousand - in spite of official claims that death statistics had been exaggerated.

Ugandan authorities claimed that the leaders had not died in the fire, contrary to the claims of some relatives and surviving group members. They issued international arrest warrants later in 2000, but in spite of occasional rumours of sightings, none of the leaders was ever found or arrested.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this 2000 cult tragedy is that, while all sorts of people (journalists, academics, film makers and many others) kept the focus on the November 1978 deaths at Jonestown, Guyana, in people’s consciousness around the world for more than two years, and sporadically after that, not so with the Ugandan tragedy. Within TWO WEEKS the world media stopped reporting on these African cult deaths.

The new millennium and the new decade revealed a jaded and callous world indifference. Who cared what people wanted to believe; who cared about the outcome of their beliefs!? At first the Ugandan police considered it religious mass suicide, but then decided that the evidence revealed murder instead. Many who died were babies and young children - THEY do NOT commit suicide.

(From TACL Vol 31 # 1 Jan-Feb 2010)