Residents in Kyotera District are under panic after 14 suspects escaped from police cell.
The suspects were arrested by police on various criminal charges that include among others; theft, defilement, assault, gambling, drug use and they were due to appear in court to answer their respective charges.
Mr Lameck Kigozi, the Deputy Regional Police Commander and police spokesperson, confirmed the incident. He said the suspects escaped from the cell on Wednesday night.
He said the Flying Squad of Uganda Police is in the area to ensure that all the suspects are arrested.
He says police officers on duty realised that the suspects had escaped on Thursday morning while conducting the routine cell check. He said the suspects used a hole they had dug in the wall of the cell, to escape.
Mr Kigozi said it was not yet clear how the suspects dug the hole and went away unnoticed.
Mr Godfrey Babaranda, the Officer-In-Charge of the Station and Mr Musa Kayongo, the District Police Commander had reportedly decided to conceal information about the escape.
The information was reportedly leaked by journalists on Thursday afternoon.
According to a Station Diary where identifies of the suspects, their case reference numbers, the nature of offense and arrival date, indicates the suspected offenders were arrested between February 3 and March 2018 in connection with crimes like abduction, defilement and theft.
The suspects have been identified as Katamba, Ssewadda, Matovu, Mayombwe, Lubega, Serunjogi, Kazibwe, Kasozi, Ashim, Mugabi, Mbabazi, Nsereko, Wasswa and Mutaawe.
Their escape has caused panic among residents, especially those who intended to pin them during prosecution.
A junior officer at the station, who did not want his name to be identified to speak freely, said most of the suspects had never been produced in court.
"It is believed someone aided the escape and the officers who were on duty have already recorded statements about the incident," he said.
He attributed the incident to lack of security personnel and weak administrative structures.
He said they would be charged with escape from lawful custody and damage of government property.
This becomes the second prison escape at the station since October 2017 when Yasin Mayanja, the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, escaped from the same cell.
Mayanja had been arrested and detained on allegations of abuse of office and corruption.
He was denied bond and locked in a cell only to find him missing the following day. Police has been tracking him in various corners of the district but failed to arrest him.
Other past incidents
There have been several escape plans from lawful custody since 2010. Some succeeded while others were foiled on different occasions.
In April 2010, at least one inmate was killed and 10 others injured as they tried to escape from Masaka Prison.
In March 2013, 10 inmates escaped from Kalisizo Prison in Rakai district. They are John Mirembe, Wycliffe Mamaggwa, Jacob Kalyango, Abdul Lusiba, Fred Yubu, Bob Vincent Ssemakula, Bosco Ssepuya, Damiano Ssemanda, Moses Mukasa and Vincent Ssenyondo.
In the same year, Pastor William Muwanguzi aka Kiwedde attempted to escape from Kalisizo Prison where he had been remanded for impersonating a Catholic priest with the intention of extorting money from residents in Rakai District. He was re-arrested and charged with attempted escape.
In December 2014, six inmates escaped from Kyanamukaaka Prison. They included John Ssali, Charles Ssentongo, Peter Mugerwa, Bosco Ssebuna, Mike Kasozi and another.
March 2014, eight suspects escaped from a cell at Lyantonde Police and to date, police have failed to trace them.