Death in a police cell

Friday June 10 2016

Allan only heard the sirens when the four police cars were already inside the compound. ILLUSTRATION | JOHN NYAGAH |

He did not like asking but he could not help himself, “Must you go now?” She was seated on the edge of the bed, her back to him, her head between her legs, brushing her long hair.

She stretched out one arm toward him and said, “Help me with my hair coil. It’s on the table.”

He reached for it and gave it to her, resisting the urge to touch her. She did not like to cuddle or be touched after she had just had a shower.

She tied her black hair into a ponytail and sat up. She looked at him, “Are you going to ask me to leave my husband next?”

He laughed, “Why not? You’re not happy with him.” She walked over to a chair next to the door heaped with their clothes and began to sort them, picking out her clothes, laying his against the back of the chair. She shook out his blue police commissioner coat, running her fingers over his epaulets.

She faced him as she dressed, “Will you leave your wife?”


He wished he could take a photograph of her just then to keep for admiring later.

“No, why should I? I’m a man. I’m allowed to have more than one wife. I can look after more than one woman,” he replied, She let the straps of her brassiere snap against her back, “Are you not a staunch Anglican, Kenneth?”

He sat up in the bed, “I’m also a staunch African. My name is Amach too. I’m an African first. My father had three wives and his father had two wives. We are not poor where I come from. I can look after you if you are mine.”

She sat on the bed next to him and asked him to pull up the zip of her sleeveless blue and white tank top. As he pulled up the zip slowly, breathing her in, she said, “Kenny, my husband is not a man I can just leave. I have told you this before. He will never grant me a divorce. He would rather see me dead.”

To imagine Henrietta Asiimwe no longer in this world made him cringe and angry. He growled, “I’ll never let anyone hurt my Mukyotera! You’re too beautiful for that man.”


His mother had said nothing. She had said all she had to say at the beginning of his relationship with Henrietta. She had tried to dissuade him from marrying her, “You met her in a nightclub, what kind of mother do you think she will make? Cocktails for your baby?”

Cheekily, Allan Asiimwe had talked back to his mother, “But what is a maid for? She can do the cooking. Henrietta works and I won’t ask her to stop.” He was sure she would change once they had children.

His mother only muttered, “A woman shows you her best before you marry her, not after.”

But he was decided. This was the last time he was taking their daughter to be with his mother. Henrietta was not home, which he had expected, but he would wait. Today was the day to lay down the law of his house, as his mother had often urged him to.

He knew he shouldn’t but he started to drink as he waited for her. He walked around the rooms of the house he had built and given her for their first marriage anniversary. All the while he was drinking and talking to himself.

When Henrietta was forced to open the gate for herself, she knew a storm was brewing. Allan’s 250SL was parked with the nose jutting towards the main door, which was wide open, at 9:20pm. But, there were no lights in the house.

She remained in her black Harrier for a few minutes, afraid to go inside the house. Kwesiga, the gardener, and Philomena, the maid’s phones were off.

Total Security Company, who were responsible for assigning a guard to the house, told her they had been informed by Mr Asiimwe that the house did not need a night guard.

Then she began to think of her daughter who was not home. She was probably with his mother, again, and this made her angry. She got out of her car and walked into the house, lighting the way with her phone torch. 

She did not see him until his voice sounded in the darkness, bitter and mocking, “Have you finally remembered you have a home?”

She turned her light on him and he winced, then looked away, before swaying to his feet from the armchair in the corner. “Turn off that light,” he snarled. She did not, instead she pointed it at his feet.

“Why do you want me to switch off the torch? Is it because you don’t want me to see you’ve been drinking again? I don’t need the light. The house already smells like a brewery,” she spat back.

Suddenly he lunged at her, grabbing and twisting her arm behind her back until that she cried out in excruciating pain.

“Talk again! You will listen today!” he shouted. She managed to free herself from his grip and rushed to the bathroom. She searched for Kenneth’s number and dialled frantically, flushing the toilet to hide her call from Allan.

“Help! He is going to kill me,” she whispered to Kenneth. Before she ended the call, she heard him snapping at his guard to get the 999 patrol pick up urgently.

Then Allan started banging on the bathroom door, “Come out! Today we must talk. You have to hear me out. I’m tired of this life.”


Allan only heard the sirens when the four police cars were already inside the compound. His struggles to free himself from the policemen were futile, even as he shouted that he had done nothing wrong. That this was his home and they did not have permission to be here.

A corporal slapped him to “cool him down” and then another because it seemed funny. Henrietta was nowhere to help him and he kicked and struggled harder as he realised they were going to force him to lie under their feet in the police pick-up. They continued to beat him for “being stubborn” and he was afraid.


Kenneth called her himself, “I have bad news, Mrs Asiimwe. Your husband is dead. He hung himself in his detention cell and his body was discovered at about 3am. You have our deepest condolences and sympathy. The body is available for collection at Mulago hospital mortuary.”