Just a week ago, the media was awash with news that 10 people had been killed in a Women’s Day fete and we are only 76 days into the new year. In the same week, Bombo barracks was attacked and before that, Mbuya.
These incidents also left people dead. And let’s not forget the senseless killings in the recent years that have targeted especially prominent people.
These killers do not seem to be afraid of security installations, something that has sent a wave of shock among the masses. Charles Etukuri and Simon Masaba explore what is going on
The wave of attacks and murders targeting civilians, military personnel and installations, has instilled fear in the public. The Police statistics indicate that in 2011 alone, 1,987 homicides were recorded, which was higher than the figure in 2010 where 1,761 cases were reported. The sad reality was the number of cases that were taken to court for prosecution. In 2011, only 938 homicide cases were taken to court, a higher figure compared to 437 the previous year.
Yet even as we wait for the figures of this year, there are real fears that such cases are on the increase, given the recent occurrences.
Some prominent murder cases from last year still remain unsolved.
And hope of the Police tracing the crime suspects is fast fading.
The Women’s Day killings that left 10 people dead
Why the killings?
Sources in the Police link the recent surge in murder cases and robberies on land wrangles, reckless possession of huge amounts of money, love gone sour, revenge and deals gone sour, among others.
The Police spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba says Police intelligence has no information linking any rebel group to the said attacks, branding it the work of criminal elements. She is quick to add that the Police is handling the situation.
Even as the Police seeks to downplay some of these incidents, the public is getting more outraged by the senseless ways that most of these murders happen: the reckless use of guns, the high number of young people as both victims and offenders, the record number of unsolved cases and the added strain mainly on the Police force, with no clear solutions to the killings in sight.
It is because of this that the Police is warning the public to be more vigilant and report any suspicious cases to them.
“We cannot be present everywhere because of shortage of staff. It is because of this that we are encouraging community the community to help us,” Nabakooba says.
For instance, the Police is still hunting for unidentified thugs who shot dead a sports betting cashier in Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb mid last year. The incident took place on Tufnell Road near Marindiana Health Centre. Rogers Kawolo 29, a cashier at King’s Investment Ltd, a sports betting company, was murdered after collecting the money from three outlets.
According to the manager of the company, Habib Musa, the deceased was forced by unidentified gun men to collect the money from the usual outlets after they had threatened to kill him.
“No attendant in the outlets could tell that Kawolo was in trouble with the people he moved with,” he said.
Musa said Kawolo had already collected money from outlets along Kampala Road, Kisekka Market and former Owino Market, before he would deliver it to Kamwokya, where their head office is.
An eyewitness, Musa Mugalu, told Sunday vision that the killers were driving a white Salon car.
Shortly after this, what started off as a normal day in Ntinda was briefly cut short and turned into a scene of gunfire as Police battled with a gang of suspected robbers.
One of the thugs was reportedly killed on the spot, while three who sustained serious wounds died later in hospital. The incident occurred along Ntinda-Kiwatule Road at about mid-day.
Another eye witness told the New Vision that the robbers were following a car whose occupants are believed to have been carrying a large sum of money.
Moses Kiwanuka, a taxi operator who witnessed the incident said plain-clothed operatives engaged the robbers in an exchange that lasted about thirty minutes. Other eye witnesses said three thugs were killed, but the Police say they were injured.
The Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Ibin Senkumbi, reported that four suspects had been arrested in connection with the incident. While addressing journalists at the Kiira Road Police Station, Senkumbi said the Police recovered fire arms and ammunition from the crime scene.
“The Police recovered a gun, five rounds of ammunition and an Ipsum car, white in colour, registration Number Plate UG 0267C,” Senkumbi said.
He added that, the Police had been trailing these thugs for a period of time before intercepting their robbery plan, which targeted Ministers village hotel and the other Ntinda based supermarkets.
Sheikh Abdukarim Sentamu was shot dead soon after holding evening prayers at a Mosque along William Street, in the city centre.
Another prominent trader and Muslim, Abubaker Kiwewa, commonly known as “Kigejjogejjo,” was shot dead at his Prime Choice Supermarket in Kyanja, a Kampala suburb. The Police arrested a suspect, one Luke Balaba, but he was never taken to court.
Addressing the media shortly after, Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander (KMP) Felix Kaweesi, said intelligence had it that it was the same gun that had been used to kill three other people around Kampala. The Police linked the gun to a private security firm and promised to ensure that the perpetuators are brought to book.
The Police alleged that the gun that shot dead, Sentamu on William Street, Kiwewa in Kyanja, Gabriel Osilo at a Kireka construction site and William Lubega a Kawempe trader, shot twice in the knee, was the same.
“It is one gun and gang that is moving on an operational boda boda. This gang is killing people in the city,” he says.
What followed immediately after, was a series of murders across the country and within three months, the Police had recorded 38 mysterious murders, in some cases by shooting. The culprit districts were Mukuno, Wakiso, Mityana, Mbale and Bugiri.
In a show of bravery, the Police arrested and detained officers from its own ranks after they allegedly roughed up and robbed a local resident and businessman of sh3m. Police Constables Godfrey Kagwene and Iddi Chemusto, both attached to Kyebando Kisalosalo Police Post in Kisalosalo were arrested and branded a disgrace to the Police force and the general public. However, to date, the money has never been recovered.
Within the same period, thugs dressed up in army uniform raided Dual Forex Bureau located on Majestic Plaza during day, putting tellers and customers on gun point and vanished with sh90m. A week after, a similar gang clad in army uniform raided another Forex bureau in Arua park, shooting two people dead and vanishing with over sh300m.
To calm the public, the Police arrested a serial robber, Paddy Sserunjogi, also known as Sobbi, who they accused of possessing a gun that linked him to a series of city robberies and murder. Sserunjogi is currently remanded at Luzira Maximum Prison.
To regain public confidence, the Inspector General of Police Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura, reinstated the Violent Crime Intelligence and Operations Unit (VCIOU) to replace the disbanded Rapid Response Unit, which had replaced the dreaded Operation Wembley, famed for reducing armed robberies in the country in the early 2000s.
But the criminals seemed undeterred. Without sparing even highly secured places, they broke into a home belonging to an army Major and made off with household property and his weapon.
According to the Police, the suspected thugs raided Major Charles Damulira attached to Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), who also doubles as the deputy operations of internal security (ISO), before they lifted his Television, invertor, Radio, Laptop, cell phone and his pistol.
But it was the gunning down of three civilians by a soldier, lance Corporal Herbert Rwakihembo, in Luzira, in a fit of anger after he was rejected and humiliated by his fiancé, that shade light on the fact that the public might not be safe afterall, from those who are supposed to protect them.
Rwakihembo was arrested and sentenced by the Court Martial early this year.
However, it is the events that have occured this year that should raise eyebrows.
A family of nine people were hacked to death in Rakai district and despite the Police deploying there heavily, another person, an elderly woman, was murdered in the same area within the same week.
Then, three Policemen were shot dead after they attempted to rob a soap factory in Natete.
Just before we could come to terms with this, there was an attack on Mbuya Military Headquarters, in which one person died.
The murder of ten people in Bombo last week by an army private, Patrick Okot Odoch, left a mark on the crime statistics. The murder of British national Derek Coggon in Entebbe was even more shocking.