By John Semakula
KIBOKO Squad leader Juma Ssemakula has admitted that his men beat up people during the Kampala Mayoral polls on Wednesday.
Ssemakula said his gang of stick-wielding men was forced to swing into action because they feared that violence from the polls would spill over to the other parts of the city and affect peopleâ€™s businesses.
The Kampala mayoral elections were suspended midway, after fighting erupted between supporters of Erias Lukwago and members of the squad.
Before the fight erupted, Lukwagoâ€™s supporters claimed they had impounded boxes of pre-ticked ballot papers in favour of his opponent Peter Ssematimba.
Ssemakula said the gang had been on alert since the campaigns started.
â€œWe had warned people before the campaigns that we would deal with anyone who caused violence in Kampala, but it seems some didnâ€™t get the message,â€ he said.
During the campaigns, Kiboko squad never surfaced in any scuffle. Ssemakula said they were not very active, although alert, because the campaigns were peaceful.
Lukwagoâ€™s supporters had accused Ssematimba of hiring the gang to harass them but Ssemakula insisted the squad is not hired by politicians to execute their missions.
â€œWe are a group of men doing business in Kampala. We formed the squad after losing our property to the demonstrators in the violent demonstrations,â€ Ssemakula said.
The Kiboko Squad came to the limelight in 2007 during the ant-Mabira demonstration. The demonstration was organised by the opposition politicians against the give away of Mabira Forest.
Violence is not a new phenomenon in Kampalaâ€™s politics. During the 2006 elections, a group of men alleged to have been hired by Godfrey Nyakana, beat up Charles Sserunjogi and stabbed him to near death.
Michael Mabikke told Saturday Vision at the beginning of the campaigns that he had formed Red brigade to deal with groups which perpetuate violence.
Mabikke the group would deal with his main opponent Lukwago and Semakulaâ€™s Kiboko Squad.
But Ssemakula scoffed at Mabikkeâ€™s brigade, saying the Kiboko Squad would paralyze it with the kind of weapons they had stocked.
During the campaigns, Lukwago always guarded by muscled men.
Mayor Hajji Nasser Ssebaggala formed a youth brigade that was in charge of his security.
Ssebagalaâ€™s brigade put on black shades and intimidated anyone who attempted to cause chaos at his rallies in the city.