People & Power
What it takes police to keep security during Christmas
Posted Sunday, December 29 2013 at 02:00
When the police issued terror alerts ahead of Christmas, the message spread so fast. But what do the men and women in uniform do to ensure that the country is safe during the festive period? Sunday Monitor’s Henry Lubega had the opportunity to spend three nights with them and experienced what they go through.
1.Tuesday, December 24
6:08pm: I report at Central Police Station (CPS) in Kampala and reach the Regional Police Commander (RPC), a one Ruhweza, by phone as per the authorisation letter from the Kampala Metropolitan Commandant (KMC).
“Wait, we operate under the cover of dark you can be doing other things until dark,” came the response from the other side.
6:37pm: I am joined by Monitor photojournalist Abubaker Lubowa as we wait under a tree at CPS for darkness to fall. Policemen walk past us going to the station’s armoury. As they check the guns, their sound attracts a brown dog strolling around as though on patrol.
Every time a car comes, it follows and takes a look at the occupants, kind of bows and walks away.
6:58pm: Ruhweza walks out of CPS to a waiting pickup truck and he is driven way.
8:05pm: One officer on night duty guarding the station comes over and asks us to get inside, “We don’t want people to sit outside here. A police station in Egypt has been attacked, go and wait from inside,” the officer tells us. When I tell him why I am there, he says “life is hard. While others are celebrating we are suffering, I have been here 24 hours.”
Inside the station, I am shown a bench [to sit on], with the middle of the wood pulp board long gone.
8:13pm: I call Ruhweza again; it is already dark. “Get in touch with the Divisional Police Commander (DPC) Dennis Namuwoza at CPS, I am going to text you his number. I am in the field.” No text message comes until when I call again.
8:21pm: A group of about 30 (I later learn they were 35) men and young boys is brought in to be recorded in the entry book, they are locked in a room with two other officers so that they do not escape.
The female officer starts recording their names, one guy refuses to say his name after pleading with him repeatedly another office walks over the window and asks him “can I come and help you remember your name, or teach you how to speak?”
With that, he remembers his name. Meanwhile, one of them who appeared to be the youngest and probably his first time at the police station, is sobbing.
8:41pm: I call Ruhweza again and this time he gives me the contact for the DPC.
8:45pm: When I make the first call, he doesn’t answer. I decide to walk to his office Room 23. As I walk in he is returning my call.
Inside SP Dennis Namuwoza’s office, it’s buzzing with plain clothe personnel who have just rounded up thugs around the Arua park area.
“We have just brought in 35 thugs most of them were pick- pocketing, grabbing handbags and necklaces. We are prepared for the Christmas security. I have deployed heavily in the city even with police snipers on some buildings, you will enjoy seeing what we go through to secure the people,” says Namuwoza before putting some minutes on my authorisation letter and sending me to Christ the King.
9:05pm: I leave CPS on foot walking to Christ the King, one of the central points for the night mass.
9:21pm: At Christ the King, I locate three policemen under a shade, one of them takes me to the commandant also hiding by a roadside flower.
ASP Mutege Herbert is responsible for security from Jinja Road traffic lights, via Oasis mall roundabout, Nile Avenue to Parliament building, Speke hotel down to Workers house, Entebbe road traffic lights, down to Conrad Plaza, and Nasser road up to Railway Station Road. He has nine men to cover this whole area.
9:35pm: The bell goes to enter for mass, Mutege’s men get into action, walking through the parked cars, with us at a vantage point to see what’s going on. “Tomorrow is going to be very busy for us, from here we are going to patrol the whole area until morning and we have to be here before the first service at 7am.
10:07pm: I leave Christ the King on foot towards the city centre, at Diamond Trust Bank, I call the OC station at CPS who tells me to go and wait for a pick-up truck to take me on the Kikuubo area patrol.
11:25pm: The pick-up truck rolls out of CPS and the vehicle commandant refers me back to the OC station for deployment to another car. Instead, I head back to Christ the King as I wait for another vehicle.
11:43pm: Mass is over and most people have left, security plans for the next day are made, which parts of the roads will be sealed off. As they make the plans, the commander reminds them that “the parish priest advised against body checks as they will take longer, people will miss mass since each service is one hour”.
1:35am: At Arua Park, plain cloth guys intercept people pick pocketing from late night bus arrivals from Sudan. Thirty-three are arrested and taken to CPS. The Kanyama’s working with police goes on picking the chaff from the unsuspecting public around the area.
2:28am: I decide to call it a day with my feet aching every time I step down. I have been walking for more than six hours.
2. Wednesday, December 25
5:20pm: I arrive at CPS and I head to Room 23 to see the DPC Dennis Namuwoza. On the shelf is a half eaten apple and a half empty water bottle on his table.
“I have been here from 6am and I will not leave until 4am just to go and freshen up. I have only 2hrs of rest before another day begins,” he says as he turns to take a bite of the apple.
6:04pm: I am seated under the tree at CPS, waiting to start the night. Just as the officers are handing over, a black dog walks by like on patrol, the brown one I saw the other day seemed to have been off duty. The black one does exactly what the brown one did the day before.
9pm: I head for Arua Park, down to Kisekka Market area, behind the new taxi park to Nakivubo stadium, then up to the Old Taxi Park. At Nakasero Market, it’s like day-time; men playing Ludo, blasting music with police at a distance watching as they expect a fight to break out anytime.
11:29pm: I join Entebbe Road from Nakasero Market up to the traffic lights joining Kampala road and take a rest at Mapeera House. By this time, the Constitution Square is deserted.
12:32am: Back to CPS but there are no arrests from other places.
1:15am: I call it a day.
3.Thursday, december, 26
This was originally designed to be the Kawunyemu day, according to the regional traffic officer Kampala, Mr Lawrance Nuwabine.
9pm: I arrive at the Central Police Station, get in touch with the OC station. I am told to wait until 11pm when the operation is to start with Kobil Bombo Road as the starting point.
9:24pm: I am joined by my photo journalist Lubowa and we walk down to the deserted Nkrumah Road.
10:45pm: At Bombo Road, waiting for the operation to start, an hour later, the OC station confirms its off. We stroll towards Wandegeya.
11:57pm: We are at Buddu House, on the road side is a man suspected to either be drunk or dead. After about 30 minutes, a patrol pick-up truck is called in from Kikoni and takes the man away who had been proved to be drunk.
1:45am: Adjacent to the three bars; Amnesia, Rouge, and 9Degress two men come out fighting with a woman. At a distance, I am with ASP Mutege and his men watching as the drama unfolds. He unleashes them to the fighting trio. The two bothers, Muhumuza and Muringi, a student at Makerere University Business School, are said to have started the fight after Murungi sexually molested the woman only identified as Maureen. After a long scuffle, Muhumuza is subdued thanks to a dose of pepper spray, he is handcuffed and bundled onto the pick-up truck.
3:10am: At Nkrumah Road Police Post, Muhumuza and his brother get back to their senses. Maureen walks away with a G3 form because she was harmed by the two men.
3:30am: I call it a festive season and head home to catch some sleep.