THUGS terrorizing Kampala and other parts of the country have become bolder and deadly. Julius Bwambale, a resident of Kyengera, is the latest victim of the mysterious murders, for which the Police is yet to find answers. A week ago, Bwambale is said to have been attacked at his home at night as he
BY VISION REPORTERS
THUGS terrorizing Kampala and other parts of the country have become bolder and deadly. Julius Bwambale, a resident of Kyengera, is the latest victim of the mysterious murders, for which the Police is yet to find answers. A week ago, Bwambale is said to have been attacked at his home at night as he went to ease himself and stabbed several times, in the presence of his wife.
His assailants fled, but by the time neighbours, attracted by the wife’s wails, arrived, Bwambale was dead. The Police are yet to get clues. Bwambale’s death is among a chain of others, in which the Police are still struggling to find perpetrators. In Bweyogerere, Banda and Kireka suburbs, iron bar hitmen now operate not only at night, but also during the day.
Namwanje, a resident of Kamuli in Kira, was recently ambushed by a group of hitmen, as she was walking along the railway line in Kireka at around 4:00pm. One of the assailants hit Namwanje’s arm with an iron bar and she dropped her bag. Another made off with the bag, containing her phone, passport, money and other documents. In the same area, robbers reportedly break into houses during the day. Victims say the suspects impersonate technicians who fix electronic appliances.
Justus Tusiime, the crime chief at Kireka Police Post, told Saturday Vision that there were two squads of assailants. One squad, he said, ambushes people and robs them of their phones, handbags and laptops. The other gang breaks into homes. Last month, armed robbers attacked residents of Kamuli village in Kireka and robbed over eight homes.
This came hot on the heels of another, where five men stole a vehicle from a special hire driver, identified as Mugisha, in Bweyogerere during the day. They hired the driver to take them to Kirinya, a nearby village, but after driving a few metres, they hit him on the head and drove off with his car. Tusiime said hitmen hide in two spots in Kireka and Banda, where they convene meetings. The spots are reportedly around Kyambogo stage and the railway line in Banda.
Tusiime said like other slums with booming economic activity, Banda, Bweyogerere and Kireka are prone to high crime rates because of unemployment. He added that the suspects in Police custody say they steal mostly home and electronic appliances, which have a ready market. Tusiime said the robbers sometimes convene meetings in the area between Crane Bank and the railway line at Kasenyi in Banda. He said the local council and the Police had started routine surveillance.
ROBBERIES ON HIGH WAYS
Robbing travellers on highways, which had been stamped out has bounced back. In a recent incident, six robbers attacked a bus heading to Kampala from Kigali in the wee hours of the morning, robbing passengers and shooting one dead. The Jaguar bus, registration number UAN 891J, was attacked at River Katonga in Mpigi district and driven to Nkozi, where the robbery was executed. The Vision Group community was also recently left in shockwhen a journalist, Thomas Pere, was killed by criminals suspected to be operating in taxis.
Emmanuel Benon Ayebare, the Katwe Police Station crime chief, says their intelligence has revealed that thugs hire taxis at sh300,000 a day to use them to execute robberies at night. “Whoever is into car hire business may be abetting crime unknowingly. They should scrutinize their clients,” he said. Ayebare said the thugs hit the road posing as bona fi de taxis, picking passengers. “They make sure the taxi is half empty to lure their victims,” he said, adding that most thugs operate on highways and carry out their clandestine missions at night.
“Since they hire cars, in case of any problem, they vanish without a trace, leaving behind the hired vehicles,” he explained. The assailants recently targeted Muslim clerics, killing several, before sparking off an outcry in the Muslim community. The thugs have also targeted mobile money agents
Killings in Rakai, animals targeted in Mukono, Buikwe
THE crime is not only a preserve of Kampala. Murders have become rampant in Rakai district. Kyotera County MP Haruna Kasolo recently said the Government had ignored the area. He called on the Police to offer more protection to the residents.
Rakai has been infested with blood-thirsty robbers who strike at night. They dig holes into their targets’ houses and kill them. In January, a family of nine was murdered in Rakai. During Easter, another family was killed at Kyabakuza village in Kagamba sub-county. Noah Sserunjogi, the regional Police spokesperson, said a Police team from Kampala was in Rakai to investigate the murders. Sserunjogi said they suspect the victims were killed for money.
THUGS TARGET ANIMALS IN MUKONO, BUIKWE
Previously, Mukono and Buikwe had been infested with iron bar hitmen, but the problem has now shifted to animal theft. Thugs connive with some of the unemployed youth in the villages to steal cows, goats and pigs. The thefts have angered the locals. Recently in Buikwe, three suspected animal thieves were rounded up and killed by a mob. Buikwe district crime chief Henry Ayebare says they recently impounded three small cars packed with stolen animals. The cars are parked at the Police station.
WHY ARE THEFTS ON THE RISE?
Buikwe LC5 chairperson Mathias Kigongo said some youth have resorted to stealing because they do not want to work, but play board games in trading centres. Kigongo added that the increasing thefts were also affecting the National Agricultural Advisory Services project in the district. He said recently, thieves stole 1,000 chicken from a local farmer in Njeru town. Ibn Ssenkumbi, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, attributes the problem to land wrangles.
He adds that carrying large sums of money, especially by mobile money agents, tempts the perpetrators. “We have now tightened the noose on passenger service vehicles, by carrying out snap checks on the roads, to ensure they are not being driven by robbers,” he says.
As an additional measure, all drivers and conductors of taxis will be expected to wear uniform before the end of the year, he says. He adds that they have also embarked on a sensitisation drive on radio talkshows. According to Ssenkumbi, unit commanders around the crime hotspots meet once a week, to share notes on how to deal with the different reported crimes in their areas.
Iron bar men now hitting during day