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Women gangs on rampage in Uganda

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th August 2013 06:23 PM

The use of women to lure men into being robbed has been known for a while. However, there is a new trend of women actually participating in robbery. Be careful of that charming stranger next to you

Women gangs on rampage in Uganda

The use of women to lure men into being robbed has been known for a while. However, there is a new trend of women actually participating in robbery. Be careful of that charming stranger next to you

Sunday Vision
 
By Gloria Nakajubi and Charles Etukuri
 
The use of women to lure men into being robbed has been known for a while. However, there is a new trend of women actually participating in robbery. Be careful of that charming stranger next to you
 
Even when they were paraded before the media, it was hard for the public to believe that Aisha Namukasa, 26, of Masanafu, Grace Nakamya, Madina Nakintu, 33, a bar woman at Wandegeya, Anna Tumuhirwe and Rosette Nakayaga from Lugala were behind some of the recent taxi robberies. 
 
Nakayaga was pregnant at the time of the arrest. But beneath their ‘innocent’ veneer, were hardcore criminals.
 
The women were a decoy to unsuspecting passengers who would see them and board a taxi, thinking the women were also passengers. The five women roamed every Kampala suburb, stealing from different passengers and were paid at the end of each day. 
 
Their mission would sometimes extend to drinking places where they lured wealthy patrons. One of their victims, Christine Wamala, an actress with The Ebonies and a resident of Banda, told Sunday Vision: “I was led to the front seat of a taxi at Banda stage at 8:00am, heading to Kampala. After disembarking, I discovered that my sh207,000, phone and a purse with my documents had been stolen. 
 
 
It was only after the arrest of this gang that I was able to identify a woman who was seated with me at the front on the fateful day.”
 
“Kenny would call us on phone and issue us with specific instructions of where to meet. The instructions were that we claim to be passengers if caught by the Police,” says 24-year-old Eva Nalubega, a housewife and mother of one. Nalubega lives in Nansana.
 
Rose Grace Nankya, another suspect aged 26, said she has been in the trade since March, bagging sh20,000 per errand.
 
The mother of three who is separated with her husband, says she was ‘recruited’ by Kenny.
 
The use of women as decoys is fast becoming a trend in the criminal world, and the Police is warning the public to be more careful.
 
The main victims are unsuspecting men, but after so many stories of these otherwise genteel creatures, men are weary, finding it hard to give lifts to even those who genuinely deserve one.
 
Robert Kiiza, a resident of Nansana, tells of his ordeal at the hands of female gangsters when he was asked to help a lady fix her phone. 
 
“I was seated somewhere minding my own business when a relatively nice looking lady walked up to me with her phone in pieces and asked me to help her fix it, claiming that it had fallen down.”
 
When he was done putting the phone back together, the lady passed him a clean and neatly folded handkerchief to clean his hands. 
 
As soon as he unfolded it, he smelt something strange and became dizzy. He woke up later in a nearby clinic. He had been taken there by passersby, who found him unconscious.
 
Kiiza’s wallet and two phones were taken, but he is grateful he is alive. Sunday Vision has learnt that there is a specialized gang of women who call themselves Cheap Stores and operates in downtown Kampala. 
 
They call themselves Cheap Stores because they operate around stores in Kikuubo and Owino. They also operate along Kampala streets, taxi and bus parks.
 
They coordinate with well-built men (kanyamas) who come to their rescue if caught.
 
Olivia Kabakama, a shop  owner, fell victim to these women. The gang has stolen from her on more than three occasions and every time she thinks she has learnt their tricks, they attack in a seemingly simple but well-articulated move.
 
Kabakama deals in mattresses, plastics and other domestic products. She says the first time the ladies attacked, they were four. They asked for a 6x6 mattress.
 
“I keep the big mattresses in the farthest end of the shop, so I have to move out most of the things in order to access it. So with the excitement of selling, I rushed to get the mattress and forgot that my bag was in full view in one of the corners,” Kabakama says.
 
Two of the ladies engaged her and pretended to help her, meanwhile the other two picked the money from her bag. All of a sudden, they started asking each other who had carried the money to pay for the mattress. 
 
This is when it occurred to her that these were con women. They took her sh300,000 and phone and never even bought the mattress. 
 
Paul Segawa was driving along the Northern Bypass heading to work at Workers’ House in the city centre. 
 
He was stopped by a heavily pregnant woman who told her she was going to Mulago, but the taxis were taking long to come. Segawa decided to help since he could still easily go to work from Mulago.
 
A few metres away, they met three other ladies who also stopped him. Since he had a pregnant woman and was scared anything could happen on the way, he chose to take them also. 
 
One by one they started to get off and only one who was seemingly asleep stayed in. As they approached the city centre, she started screaming, asking the man where he was taking her and claiming she could not even find her money in her handbag.
 
“It was early in the morning and I drove on until I reached my workplace and this saved me because everyone knew me and there is no way they could expect me to do such a thing,” says Segawa.
 
The woman’s intention was to have him arrested on allegations that he had stolen her money.
 
Some taxi drivers use women in their scheme to steal from the public. They will have at least four women sit in the taxi and will only stop where there is just one or two people.
 
Later, they divert the taxi to an isolated place and rob the passengers.
 
“Some of these women even have big luggage or baskets like the ones market vendors use when going for shopping, but all this is a disguise to attract other people into the taxi since people rarely board empty taxis,” says Musa Kazibwe, another victim.
 
Fred Tumuhairwe, the head of operations at the Police Flying Squad, says they have made a number of arrests on women gang leaders and prominent among them is Resty Nantongo alias Sarah, based in Wandegeya. 
 
Sarah is said to specialize in making fake land deals that are estimated in hundreds of millions.
 
“Sarah has a wellestablished chain of people who comprise fake lawyers, local council chairman, fake residents and fake lawyers.
 
They can actually set up an emergency office when they establish their target,” reveals Tumuhairwe.
The other most recent incident that saw the robbery of over sh600m from a commercial bank in Gulu is also said to have had a woman at the implementation level.
 
“She befriended the security guard for about two months and would even bring him food. On the fateful day, she brought food laced with chloroform after which she called her colleagues to take action,” says Tumusiime.
 
He also refers to a group of about six women, all from one family, that was recently convicted and sentenced on charges of robbery. They were based in Nakulabye, a Kampala suburb.
 
The other crime where women are used as baits is the motorcycle robberies where a woman pretends to be a passenger and takes the cyclist to a preplanned destination where they are beaten up and the motorcycle taken.
 
Charles Kataratambi, the commander of the Police Flying Squad says women criminals are on the rise and they arrest them almost daily.
 
This, he says, can be attributed to the increasing number of organised criminal gangs which recruit women.
 
Kataratambi warns that they will continue to crack down on them. His only challenge is that they cannot stop the courts from according these suspects their constitutional rights such as bail.
 
“We shall continue to arrest them and I know time will come when they will also get tired and reform because we have many such characters who have reformed and now help us to track others,” says Kataratambi.
 
 

Women gangs on rampage in Uganda

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