By Jeff Andrew Lule
KAMPALA - Some city robbers have changed tactics and are using graduation gowns to waylay unsuspecting targets, police have found out.
These men wear graduation gowns to conceal their identity, two of them confessed after police mid-this week intercepted 60 men linked to robberies within Kalerwe, a local suburb.
The night operation was led by the commander of Kalerwe Police, Charles Nsaba.
Of those caught and arrested, two were found wearing graduation gowns, and carrying knives and hammers.
“They confessed that they use gowns to hide their identities from those who know them,” said Nsaba.
Police teamed up with a group of reserve officers in Kawempe and netted some 60 suspected robbers and ironbar hitmen who are believed to have been terrorizing the area.
The Wednesday night operation started at around 8pm local time (EAT) and lasted several hours until the morning of Thursday.
Besides Kalerwe, the security forces also combed areas neighbouring Kalerwe.
The suspects, here in a police bus after their arrest, face various charges, including murder. PHOTO/Moses Lemisa
Police recovered hammers, iron bars and pointed objects during the operation, and said the robbers used these items to threaten or attack their targets with before making off with their items.
Many of the suspects were former convicts and a number of them had just been released from prison, police revealed.
But Nsaba said: “We shall not give room for such acts in our area. We want people to move safely and operate their businesses without fear.
“They have been putting on gowns and hiding in dark corners in narrow trails. It is very hard to identify them at night. They would then attack people with hammers and iron bars and take off with their items,” said the police commander.
Police first arrested the key suspects – Charles Teefe, 27, (turnboy) a resident of Kaleerwe Zone and Ronald Muyimbo, 24, following a tip off from residents.
“People in the area alerted us that the two were leading a gang attacking people. We immediately launched the operation where we arrested them and [they] gave us links to their colleagues,” said Nsaba.
They have been linked to different crime cases around the neighbourhoods of Kampala. PHOTO/Moses Lemisa
The suspects face charges of murder, robbery and other related crimes when thorough investigations are complete.
One of the victims told of how she was attacked on her way from work.
“They stopped me and asked me to surrender my hand bag if I wanted to live. I never resisted because they were holding knives and hammers. I went and informed police,” she said.
Residents say the rate of crime has increased in the areas of Mulago, Mpererwe, Kanyanya, Kyebando and Kaleerwe. They are pointing fingers at police authorities, saying they release suspects without taking them the court.
A resident of Kaleerwe Zone says the gang have a group codenamed Nyondo Company, adding that they engage in odd jobs during daytime, but then turn to crime at night.
“They even have graduation gowns which they put on at night with big hats thus making it hard to identify them.”