THE year 2009 has not been a simple one for the Police. Ever since President Yoweri Museveni appointed Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura as the new Inspector General of Police in October 2005, the general has been tasked with fighting crime, not only in the community, but within the force as well.
This year, crime has manifested in a number of ways, the most prominent of which is human sacrifice. In September, the anti-sacrifice trafficking taskforce chief, Moses Binoga, said out of the 21 people murdered between January and August, 13 were juveniles. Binoga, who was issuing guidelines to the public to curb ritual murders, said the Police had arrested 91 suspects since January, 32 of whom had been taken to court.
He said most of the victims of child sacrifice have not been under the care of their biological parents and that the killers take advantage of the laxity of the caretakers. Among these cases is that of a prominent city tycoon, Kato Kajubi, who is facing trial in Masaka High Court over child sacrifice.
This year has also seen a crackdown on marijuana growers, especially in Wakiso and Kayunga districts where acres of the outlawed weed were found and destroyed. Several people have been arrested in connection with marijuana growing, possession and selling.
The only undoing, according to the Police, is that the law against marijuana growing, possession and smoking is still weak. â€œThe law gives the culprits light punishments,â€ Kampala Metropolitan deputy spokesperson Henry Kalulu recently noted.
The Police have also had a year of battling with new tricks that thieves have been coming up with.
These include; posing as passengers to rob people in taxis, knocking motorists to create confusion and rob them and conning people through dubious deals like the black dollar scam where one pays money to get dollars. Most of these deals sound too good to be true.
Then there was the heated case where pastors, Martin Sempa, Solomon Male and Michael Kyazze accused their colleague, Pastor Kayanja of sodomising boys. The Police said the allegations were baseless and malicious. But the investigations into the allegations were questioned by many including President Museveni.
This was after several state officials including a security operative, Maj. Michael Ssali Salambwa, were cited in the case. Salambwa was particularly implicated in the transportation of Samson Mukisa, one of the teenagers who accused Kayanja of sodomy, but reportedly withdrew the claims later. The President warned the Police against harassing complainants and asked them to handle the case impartially. He also warned Government officials against interfering with the case. Kayihura is said to have reprimanded the CID top brass for that.
Within the Police force, scores of officers some of them holding senior positions, have been suspended over misconduct and corruption. The latest cases are those of Kiboga district Police chief William Kawuka and Oyam district acting Police boss, Hassan Ali Inziku. Kawuka was arrested for allegedly extorting money from the public and detaining people in un-gazetted areas while Inziku was recently arrested over soliciting a sh1m bribe.
The force has witnessed at least six reshuffles this year, the highest number since the NRM Government took power in 1986. Senior Police officers have already expressed dissatisfaction at the way they are being replaced by cadet assistant superintends of Police. But Kayihura says those who were grumbling were the lazy officers and on several occasions has warned such officers, saying they risk being knifed.
Early this year, 465 cadets were recruited into the Police and they have, for sometime, been understudying the senior officers at various the Police stations countrywide. Kayihura said cadets would take over the management of all the Police posts in Kampala.
The Police spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba, describes the reshuffles that have affected several senior Police officers as normal procedure. She refutes claims that reshuffles are meant to militarise the force. â€œThey are meant to improve efficiency in the Police.â€ When female Police officers met Kayihura at the CID offices in Kibuli in April, they raised concerns over sexual harassment from their senior male colleagues and discrimination in promotions.
Shedding tears, some of the female officers claimed that the senior male officers were asking them for sex in order to be promoted. Kayihura promised to handle the matter.
Critics, especially from the opposition, have accused the Police of using excessive force whenever they are quelling riots.
A case in point is the riot that followed Kabaka Ronald Mutebiâ€™s aborted tour of Bugerere in Kayunga district in September. Many died and others escaped with injuries. But Kayihura argued that they use reasonable force. Explaining the shooting of rioters during the Kabaka riots, Kayihura said the public had become rowdy and some people possessed guns. Indeed, several Police officers were shot and some died.
The opposition has throughout this year accused the Police of being partisan. When cadet officers graduated recently, some critics argued that they were being prepared to handle the 2011 elections. But this allegation has been levelled against the Force ever since Kayihuraâ€™s appointment as IGP in October 2005, ahead of the 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections. It almost got weight when after winning the 2001 elections, the President said there was olumbugu (a dangerous weed) in the Police â€” literally meaning (anti-government officers) needed to be weeded out.
But Kayihura vehemently refutes those allegations as false. Although the Police are supposed to be non-partisan, officers have the constitutional right to vote for a presidential candidate of their choice. With such challenges, Kayihura is not having a picnic in his office. He was recently quoted in one of the local dailies saying he was ready to quit office.
This year the Police has had six reshuffles