“No night passes without anybody reporting about theft of his or her animal."
Local leaders and residents in Budaka, Kibuku and Pallisa district are lamenting over the increased cases of animal theft in Bukedi sub-region in the festive season.
Budaka district woman MP Pamela Kamugo Nasiyo told New Vision that most the people in villages are now spending sleepless night outside for fear of losing their animals to thieves.
Kamugo noted that unidentified groups of people have invaded the three districts to steal goats, sheep, cows and pigs, as well as poultry.
She said the vice is also affecting government programmes in that even those who benefited from the NAADs programme have seen their animals stolen.
"No night passes without anybody reporting about theft of his or her animal. We appeal to security agencies to unite with local council leaders to protect people with their property," said Kamugo.
"Some of our people have been forced to share houses with some of their animals for fear of being stolen which puts them at risk of contracting diseases."
The MP urged the local council leaders to form patrolling groups with help from police.
Budaka district LC5 chairperson Sam Mulomi and other leaders in Kibuku and Pallisa districts told the state minister for disaster Musa Ecweru that residents are on tension as other groups of people, due to famine, have resorted to stealing food from gardens.
‘Gossiping and gambling'
"The situation in Budaka is becoming unbearable as residents with cassava, potatoes and rice gardens have been invaded and their crops harvested in the night," said Mulomi.
"Our locals nowadays wake up in the morning to find their crops in gardens harvested without their notice. We have tried to make follow ups but no arrests have been effected."
Mulomi attributed increased theft to high poverty levels, laziness among the youth and looming famine in the area.
"Most of our youth in Budaka district do not want to work and most of them spend their time in trading centres gossiping and gambling. You can even wonder where they get the money to waste on gambling if it's not stealing."
Patrick Kirya, a resident of Bwase, said that in a space of five months, he has lost two bulls and one goat to theft, adding that he tried to report to police and LCs but no recovery has been done to-date.
"I have been looking after these bulls so I could sell them and be able to send my boy to university. Since they have been stolen, I do not know where the money will come from because even the swamps where we cultivate rice from have dried up due to the hot sun."
Budaka district police commander Michael Ongic said that police combined with other sister security forces have stepped security by making abrupt roadblocks for checkups and night patrols within town councils and villages.
"We are only appealing to LCs and other senior resident to cooperate in order to ensure that residents have a peaceful festive period," he said.