Global Politics


By Livingstone Okumu Langol

 The lead judge, Justice Michael Elubu, April 18, 2024 read 78 counts of crimes allegedly committed by Thomas Kwoyelo, a former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander. Kwoyelo, a former child conscript into the rebel outfit, now facing charges before the International Crime Divisions(ICD) allegedly committed the following crimes: murder, pillage, aggravated robbery, and rape amongst others in the period 1994-1996.

The alleged crimes are against article 3 of Geneva Convention, against Uganda Law, and against Uganda Constitutions, the judge noted.

Kwoyelo testified that he was not just a rebel, he was more of a medic who saved lives; whose childhood was robbed and grew up to become what he was perceived to be.     


In the dock,in Gulu High Court, April 18, 2024, stood Thomas Kwoyelo before the ICD. Thomas Kwoyelo, now 50 years old, was a 1987 child conscript into the LRA rebel outfit while he was attending primary three class at Parabongo Primary School. He was 13 years old when conscripted by the LRA.

Besides growing up as a notorious rebel, Kwoyelo was mentored into a herbalist/medical practitioner while in the bush. He was captured by the government (UPDF) soldiers in 2009 and has since then been a detainee.

Kwoyelo, in a sworn testimony, distanced himself from the counts read against him. To the awe of the news reporters, judges and defense counsel, Kwoyelo calmly and with no signs of remorse pleaded not guilty to all the counts. “What are the 78 counts meant for,” Kwoyelo reacted.

Charles Dalton Opwonya the lead counsel introduced his team of lawyers one by one, starting with Caleb Alaka, Ivan Ocheng and Anyuru George William. Charles Dalton Opwonya announced that they were ready to proceed with defense.“I am going to lead him to introduce himself,” he said. The Judge ruled that he had to wait, until all the charges are read to him.

The defense counsel Ivan Ocheng, noted that it was not being mentioned to the defense team who Kywoyelo killed.

Kwoyelo asked court if his counsel can translate all those counts to him so that he may follow it well.


Kwoyelo’s Narrative


“My name is Kwoyelo Thomas. “I was abducted from Pogo and when we reached the bush, we were divided into three groups.We were introduced to how to operate guns, how to assemble the gun and fire it.

“Later, we were taken to acassava garden, and while we were uprooting cassava,one of us, the abductee boy escaped.“When the commander who took us on the mission of uprooting cassava realized that one person was unfortunately missing, he ordered us to stop working and assembled all of us who remained in the garden.

“Then the commander asked some of the soldiers to comb all the surrounding areas.The soldiers who tracked the escapee, later caught up with him and brought him to him back to the main group.

“Later he was paraded before us to see how hewould be killed, and afterward he was killed.

“We were told that if anyone tried to escape, he will be killed like that boy who escaped and was later apprehended.”

“After staying in the bush for long, I realized that my captor was called Okwera Dul Mony.“He was a former Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) during Dr. Apollo Milton Obote’s II Government. “He was in-charge of the new abductees. “I learned that the children abducted from Gulu were taken to operate in Kitgum and vice versa,” Kwoyelo said.

“Different soldiers were referred to by their seniority and professions, the title like Lapwony, meaning‘teacher.’ There were intelligence officers and technicians who were called controllers.“They also had command coy.The controller’s other job is. to perform rituals, hold calabash of water with spiritual powers and sprinkle the water to ward off the enemies’ power.

“The new abductees were also assigned to work with the controllers, who in turn to train them to also become controllers or technicians.

“The controllers knew how to improvise and service various weapons. They would make their recruits master the same arts.”

“During the battle, all various guns which had been assembled and modified will selectively be used against the enemies. They would chant some words that appeared to magically stop bullets from the enemy forces.”

“When you are assigned to a medical worker, he mentors you to become a medic. When assigned to aquartermaster, you get trained into. You will be trained in the line of providing food for the forces. When assigned to a signaler, you also get trained into a signaler.

“As I was abducted and handed to a medical person,although we were doing the other training to become a regular force, my medical mentor trained me in the field of medical services. “How to treat people with Western medicine; how to inject patients and to administerthe Acholi traditional medicine. “This made me know and become knowledgeable and successful in treating people through traditional herbal medicine,” Kwoyelo testified.

“Even now I can work in the field of western medicine. “When a woman is in labour pain, I can help her to deliver, because I was trained as a traditional birth attendant and knows how to deliver a child, and prepare the mother after birth,” he claimed.

“In regards to Acholi traditional herbs, if there is a person who has a broken limb, I cannot allow the person to be amputated.

“I can give an example of someone who had a fractured bone in the bush,a senior person known by the name Onen Kamdulu, who sustained broken legs.“I managed to treat him and he got healed using Acholi traditional herb,” Kwoyelo testified.

“If I were to count the number of people I cured, there are so many of them, and if they are to be called to testify before this great court,they would confirm to this court ICD that Kwoyelo did magic on us.” Kwoyelo boasted.

“God has given me different secrets of various ailments. God also gave me different traditional herbs for treating different ailments that came to me in my dreams. Even those illnesses such as epilepsy, elephantiasis, I can treat them, also cure them.

“I also cure the diseases known in Acholi asTwo Lango. To me that is not sickness, I can treat and let the affected person get cured. Even tuberculosis of the spine, I can treat it, I can cure different coughs, I can treat them using Acholi traditional herbs. “The patients can get well with medication within a short time,” Kwoyelo claimed.

“For me, as Kwoyelo I can stitch back injuries.If I was not trained well by professional medical personnel, my mentor, I could not have done it,” he claimed.

“In regard to modern medicine, welooted them fromgovernment hospitals, otherwise we worked with herbal remedies.“However, when the Holy Spirit Movement went to Sudan, we got Government drugs from Juba Hospital which they were supplying to the rebels, and I got the opportunity to be trained in medicine from Juba medical facility,” Kwoyelo claimed.

“The time I spent in the bush, we were not supposed to save our hair. “One day, my hair was saved, I became sick, even now when I save my hair I fall sick.

“Among the witnesses, who appeared in court, I heard onetestifying that I was a person, with dreadlocks.The witness was talking about someone else,not me.”“People who know me will confirm that Kwoyelo Thomas Latoni never had dreadlocks.”

“Initially while under commander Alice Lakwena, we were called the Holy Spirit Movement, and the soldiers were referred to as messengers. “Thename Lord’s Resistance Army came much later when Joseph Kony had already crossed into Sudan in 1994,” Kwoyelo narrated.

“For me I feel embarrassed when some people say that Kwoyelo just became a criminal. Even you judges, did you start being a judge or you were having a lower judicial position?” Kwoyelo had the audacity to challenge the judges.

All the four panel of judges grumbled and ruled Kwoyelo out of order. The lead counsel Dalton Opwonya, reading the mood of the judges, said, “My Lord, we shall reprimand him.”


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *