THREE people have been arrested over the murder of a forest patrol officer together with his family at Kiwafu in Mukono district. Patrick Kalemera, his pregnant wife Teddy Nampiima and three-year-old daughter Patricia Kisakye were burnt to death in their house on Wednesday night.
Their house was bolted from outside at around 2:00am and set ablaze by illegal pitsawyers, according to the area residents.
On Friday, the Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, vowed to have the perpetrators brought to justice.
â€œI have sent two officers and have arrested three people, one of them a prime suspect,â€ Kayihura told mourners during the burial of Kalemera at Kiwafu on Friday. The wife was buried at her parentâ€™s home in Ntenjeru sub-county the day before.
â€œThe Police were led to the prime suspect with the help of sniffer dogs,â€ Kayihura said.
â€œI remember another incident in Masaka in which forest officers were murdered. We are organising a special unit to work with the National Forestry Authority. â€
Asked by The New Vision how big the special unit would be, Kayihura said: â€œIt is not about numbers, it is rather about systems and mobilisation of the community. The Police cannot protect every household or every tree, but protection should begin with people giving information about the criminal elements.â€
For instance, he pointed out that pitsawyers kept on threatening Kalemera. â€œWhere were his â€˜neighboursâ€™ and the community? They should have informed the Police at Ntenjeru, which is less than two kilometres away, or at Kisoga Police post. The community knows a lot more about these people â€” drug takers, waragi takers and timber dealers.â€
He said he would meet NFA officials on Monday (today) to discuss how security could be improved.
This year, Kayuhira pointed out, has not been good. â€œIt started with reckless drivers causing accidents, then the ritual murders, then crimes in Kyanamukaka (murders in Masaka) and now the forest killings,â€ he said.
â€œThis is being caused by thugs but the situation is under control,â€ he assured the mourners.
In a separate meeting, the forestry staff who escaped an earlier attack in Bufumbe forest reserve in Mukono district, said the men suspected to have burnt their vehicle and hacked their driver had been released.
â€œWe have been informed that there is no evidence to pin down the suspects. Even the illegal loggers now boastfully walk into the forests and cut down trees,â€ said Abdul Kulabako.
Patrick Rubanga said his child was scared of going to school because fellow pupils told him that his family would also be attacked.
Hudson Andrua, the director of natural forests, said a paramilitary training course was being organised for forest rangers.
Quoting statistics from the environmental atlas for Uganda, Obed Tugumisirize, a forest plantation specialist, said central Uganda had lost 78% of forest cover in 15 years (1990-2005) as opposed to the national average of 21%.
He said the loss had increased the siltation of Lake Victoria since most of the shores were exposed to soil erosion. Galima said the catchment forests were twice as big as Mabira Forest and once degraded, the rate of destroying Mabira would increase.
Three held over forest officer murder