The Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) has handed four Mai Mai dissidents and the remains of another back to the Congolese authorities at Mpondwe-Kasindi border post.
They were intercepted by the UPDF’s 5th Mountain Battalion based in Bwera, Kasese district as the Congolese militiamen were attempting to sneak into Uganda across the DR Congo-Uganda border on July 14.
The group was crossing into Uganda at Kiraro along River Thako, which marks the common border between Uganda and the DRC.
The Operation Shujaa spokesperson, Major Peter Mugisa, said the Mai Mai were taking their wounded colleague for treatment after fighting with Congolese armed forces.
“As they were being intercepted, two who were armed, managed to flee, but one of the rest, Kasereka Nguchi, was put out of action and the four were captured alive,” Mugisa said in a statement.
Mugisa named the captives as Katembo Kombe, 21, Thembo Mutima, 15, Kambale Kombe, 23, and Jean Kasereka, 19.
He said they were part of the bigger Mai Mai group that was intercepted.
Leading the Ugandan security delegation, Col Christopher Columbus Tumwine, the 222nd Mountain Brigade Commander, informed the gathering that the three after fighting with FARDC, ran to Uganda being helped by three Ugandans to treat their injured colleague.
“We have arrested the three Ugandan collaborators and are now waiting for them to face courts of law,” Tumwine said.
"We have obtained good information. We now know their structure, and who supplies them with logistics and contacts. We intend to share it with you so that we can strengthen Operation Shujaa,” Tumwine told the Congolese security delegation.
The Kasese Deputy Resident District Commissioner (RDC) in charge of Bukonzo West which borders DRC, Lt Maate Magwara, said Uganda, through the East African Community, is committed to ensuring the two neighbours live in harmonious coexistence so that peace and security prevail.
The DRC joined the East African Community hardly two months ago.
“What you must also know is that Uganda is a signatory to the Geneva Convention and we respect international law of armed conflict. That is why we have not beaten them but instead gave them food and treated the injured,” Magwara said
The dissidents were received by Operation Shujaa coordinator, Col Danny Endubu Madawa, who lauded the continued FARDC and UPDF military offensive to pacify the eastern part of Congo.
The two armies, jointly sanctioned by Presidents Yoweri Museveni and his Congolese counterpart, Félix Tshisekedi, have been carrying out operations targeting the terrorist Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which is linked to atrocities in Eastern DRC and bombings in Kampala.
“Thank you for handing over these enemies of peace. If you did not have the spirit of brotherhood you would have left them to continue haunting the people of Congo,” said Col Danny Endubu Madawa.
Who are Mai Mai?
One of the numerous active rebel groups operating in the eastern DRC, the Mai Mai are linked to horrific savage acts such as mutilation, sexual violence, conscription of child soldiers and the killing of unborn children.
The armed group was formed in September 2011 by Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga to purportedly defend the local communities of Katanga province against other armed groups.