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Kidnaps: Majority of reported cases fake

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th May 2018 08:56 AM

Genuine kidnappings involve a criminal taking a person away to a hidden location and confining them for a period of time, with the motive of demanding a ransom in exchange for their release.

Kidnaps: Majority of reported cases fake

Genuine kidnappings involve a criminal taking a person away to a hidden location and confining them for a period of time, with the motive of demanding a ransom in exchange for their release.

Evans Aruho, a student of Bishop University in Mbarara, is suspected to have faked his kidnap and asked for a sh2m ransom. Nineteen-year-old Sharon Magoba (right), a student teacher at Wanyange Primary Teachers College in Jinja is suspected to have faked her kidnap and demanded sh5m ransom from her parents. The two were arrested by Police and are waiting for trial

Whereas there is a public uproar in Uganda and growing anxiety over the kidnap and abduction cases being reported, an analysis of the cases reported since the start of 2018 shows that the majority of the cases reported are not genuine.

Genuine kidnappings involve a criminal taking a person away to a hidden location and confining them for a period of time, with the motive of demanding a ransom in exchange for their release.

According to media reports, the many of the kidnappings in Uganda since the beginning of the year are of cases where opportunists claim they have been kidnapped whereas not. Up to 20 of about 30 kidnappings were fake reports that the Police investigated and tracked the perpetrators, until the alleged victims were recovered and eventually confessed to their acts.

Copycat acts "Our analysis shows that the motive for kidnapping is four-fold: terrorism and terrorism financing, human sacrifice with witchcraft playing a role, crimes of passion and selfkidnap, where earning money seems to be the driving factor.

There is a line of the copycat syndrome we are equally investigating," said the Police spokesperson, Emilian Kayima. Other security sources say the number of self-abductions appear to have shot up in April, following a number of kidnap cases where it was reported that large amounts of ransom money had been paid.

Wasting Police time "The people who orchestrated these kidnaps have all confessed that they saw an opportunity and took it. We have explained to them that their activities wasted the Police's time and resources and diverted security agencies from serious work, which could have put the lives of genuine kidnapping victims at risk," said a source who preferred to remain unnamed.

Among the cases that have been proved to be self-kidnaps during the month of April alone were those of I am ready to serve, says Balunywa Andrew Wandera, Adam Kayondo, Enid Anyang, Mariam Ruwase, Peace Asiimwe and one Nakalyowa. In all these cases, the ‘victims' were communicating with their friends and families attempting to demand ransom.

The Police analysed the calls and realised the trends that pointed at the kidnaps being fake. Police tracked and investigated the cases painstakingly, retrieving the alleged kidnap victims from their hiding places and arresting them along with their accomplices.

During the month of May, a further eight cases of kidnap were found to be fake, three genuine and five others under serious investigation. The self-kidnaps included Jethro Mugume, Evans Aruho, Doreen Nsimire, Mary Namayanja, Edwin Mwesigwa, Nasim Gonza, Victor Mushemeza and Grace Kyosimire.

All the fake kidnap cases during the month of May were closed, with the culprits and their accomplices all arrested. The Police also rescued six of the genuine kidnap victims, but another two were killed even though the suspects involved in the case were apprehended and are currently in custody.

Perpetrators face prosecution The Police are yet to reveal all the details around the genuine kidnap cases in order to protect case evidence since the kidnapping rings could be connected.

"All those engaged in self-kidnaps will face the full force of the law. Already, one has been investigated, prosecuted and convicted. This should sound as a warning to those that intend to do the same either to parents or their significant others," Kayima said.

Kayima said according to Police records, the number of self-kidnaps have been increasing over time following the trend of scams and cons normally carried out by "Bafere".

"In the past, the Bafere would train like professionals and perform their con tricks with serious confidence, but the worry we have now is that there is a lot of public anxiety and economic desperation among some people who take what they think is an easy route.

For most of these cases it is disturbing to find their families who are also not doing well, being forced to mobilise scarce resources to save the life of their child or relative — only to find that the character had mismanaged personal finances and is now cheating his or her loved ones," he said. Section 242 of the Penal Code Act, titled "Punishment for Kidnapping", says: "Any person who kidnaps any person from Uganda or from lawful guardianship commits a felony and is liable to imprisonment for 10 years."

According to security sources, whereas the persons found to have engaged in self-kidnap have been charged in courts of law and will face the possibility of spending 10 years in prison, there are discussions around increasing the punishment. Kayima said the media also had a role to play in reporting the news while guarding against sensationalism which increases anxiety.

"The media should take care not to encourage these self-kidnaps. Instead, we should work together to condemn these acts of criminality. Our resolve to detect, determine the level of the threat and defeat these criminal elements is total and absolute," he said. 

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