13th March 2016
This statement is to give information in connection with recent incidents of violence in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts given the distorted, and manipulated messages being sent out, especially on social media.
Let me begin by congratulating the people of Uganda for the generally peaceful and successful election, namely presidential and parliamentary elections on 18th February 2016, The LCV Elections on 24th February 2016, the mayoral elections on 2nd March 2016 and the LC III chairperson on 9th March 2016. In particular, I wish on behalf of the police and the sister security agencies to thank you for the support you gave us to ensure that the country is safe and secure. The valuable contribution of the crime preventers in effectively implementing “Neighborhood Watch”, where neighborhoods and villages where security forces could effectively deploy is greatly appreciated.
Having said the above, however, there were isolated case incidents of violence here and there in some parts of the country but which we were able to handle and minimize damage to life and property, keep public order and ensure that the country is safe and secure.
In this context let me focus on incidents in the Rwenzori sub-region.
After the February 24th LC5 elections, there were clashes resulting from dissatisfaction by some candidates and their supporters. the violence started in Busengerwa village of Busaru sub county where one person was shot dead by a former UPDF guide, called Museveni Bonifance, alias Bhangi, which led to retaliatory attacks in Busaru, Ngamba and Kirumya sub counties, leaving 15 Civilians dead and 04 others injured, 139 houses were also set ablaze. Following the incidents, eighty suspects were charged with murder in the high court sitting in FortPortal on 11th March 2016 and subsequently remanded. Bhangi, the killer that started it all was arrested last night in Busaru sub County, Bundibugyo District. Hunt for other suspects, and the investigations continue.
Let me commend the joint security forces for acting swiftly and preventing the violence from spreading and ensuring security in Bundibugyo District.
On the night of 10th March2016, at 8pm, the day after the elections of LC III Chairpersons, a joint motorized patrol of Police and UPDF, while patrolling lower Kendahi cell, Kikongo ward, Hima Town Council, was attacked by over 30 persons armed with machetes, knives and clubs. 04 soldiers were injured, two of them critically, and the attackers tried to grab their guns. In self-defense, the patrol opened fire on the attackers, instantly killing two of them, and forcing the rest of them to flee. The injured soldiers are Cpl Ssentongo Matia, L/Cpl Rwot Owengeyo, L/Cpl Katuramu Hannington, and L/Cpl Otube Moses. They were rushed to Kilembe Hospital for first aid and the following day, they were referred to UPDF 2nd division Hospital in Mbarara. Two are still in critical condition.
Later the same night, at about 9:00pm, a group of arsonists torched a house of one Kamanyire Ali. Kamanyire is a known supporter of one Tom Wabukombi, who was one of the candidates but lost in LC III elections in Hima Town Council, but his tenants are said to have supported his rival candidate John Katuura, who won the elections.
Following this incident the RPC Rwenzori East informed of the situation and requested for reinforcements. I sent a team of Field Force Unit under the command of Commissioner of Police (CP) Opolot Jacob.
On 11th March 2016, at around 1:00pm, a team of Police UPDF officers led by CP Opoloto Jacob, while on a pre-deployment assessment mission in Kasenyi village, Buhurira Sub County, was attacked by a group of about 20 youths, armed with machetes, knives and clubs. They stabbed SPC Mbusa Joel, critically injuring and disarming him of hid firearm. They also stoned CP Opolot Jacob fracturing his right leg. The security team fired shots in the air to scare them but the attackers were nit, and in fact became even more aggressive. In self-defense, the team opened fire killing 4 attackers, and recovering the gun that had been taken from SPC Mbusa Joel. CP Opoloto Jacob and SPC Mbusa Joel were rushed to Kilembe Hospital. We are transferring them to Mulago Hospital for further medical treatment.
The attackers who were killed are Kake Ezekiel, Bwambale Sajin, Wayakwa James and Kirerembwa Jokas. What is common to them is that they were members of a militia group linked to Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu cultural institution, calling themselves “Kirumiramutima” (strong-hearted). It should be noted that the Omusinga wa Rwenzururu has got official Royal guards given to him by, and based on agreement with Government. Three suspects connected with the attack have so far been arrested and are helping the Police with Investigations.
Furthermore, on the morning of yesterday Saturday 13th March 2016, unknown people set ablaze the house of the GISO of Kyabarunga Sub County in Kasenyi village as well as houses of eight other persons, who are his relatives. They also torched a butchery and a drug shop in the same area. We have information that criminal gangs are being incited to target GISOs and Crime Preventers and their properties in Kasese District.
It should be noted that prior to the 2016 LC III Elections on 9th March 2016, there were widespread threats and intimidation not only in Kasese district, but throughout the sub region against voting for certain candidates. We are investigating reports in the case of Hima Town Council that if the elections go in favor of the NRM candidate John Katuura against Independent candidate Tom Wabukombi, there would be bloodshed. In fact, it was because of similar reports that there was increased patrols in Hima Town Council, where one of our patrols was attacked. In fact, on the night of the Election Day 9th march 2016, supporters of Tom Wabukombi, contrary to electoral laws, declared their candidate the winner, and started celebrating in Hima Town.
The following day, on 10th March, after the final tally of valid votes cast, the electoral commission declared the NRM candidate John Katuura as the winner. In reaction, Wabukombi’s supporters assembled at his office in Hima Town Council, and subsequently incidents of attacks on our security personnels. Joint UPDF and Police reinforcements have been deployed in all affected areas. The people in those areas should therefore not fear, and should go about your normal business.
In spite of the above mentioned incidents, however, I wish on behalf of the police and sister security agencies to assure the Public that we shall continue to ensure the security and safety of the Rwenzori sub region, and the country, as a whole. We caution those misleading the youth into engaging in reckless, and meaningless attacks on the security forces and other innocent people to desist from this criminality, otherwise the law and justice will catch up with them.
We, also, the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu Cultural Institution, as well as other cultural institutions in the region to cooperate with security forces to engage, particularly the youth against getting themselves involved in violence, and ensure that business life, and the life of ordinary people in Kasese District, and the sub region as a whole goes on, normally without disturbance from irresponsible, reckless, and even dangerous criminal activities.