Thursday March 2 2017

High caliber guns in hands of criminals - report

Aswa regional police spokesperson Jimmy Patrick

Aswa regional police spokesperson Jimmy Patrick Okema displays guns recovered from thugs in in a recent operation in Gulu District. File photo 

By Joseph Kato

KAMPALA.

The 2016 crime report by Flying Squad Unit (FSU) shows high caliber guns are in the hands of criminals.

A report submitted to the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, last week, a copy Daily Monitor has seen, indicates that out of the 41 guns recovered during operations, 21 were submachine guns.

A police source said most of the SMGs are only authorised to be in military and specialised police units. He said some of the riffles especially those recovered in the crackdown on criminals that were terrorising mobile money operators and targeting foreigners had reference and serial numbers almost similar to those of military and police forces.

“We are wondering how guns of this caliber cross to hands of criminals. We suspect there are people within our security forces helping criminals access these guns,” a police source said.

The source identified some of the SMGs as IMI UZI and Micro Uzi suspected to have been made from Israel or Singapore. IMI UZI and Micro UZI guns have a barrel length of about 325mm, magazine capacity of 25 rounds, rate of firing 700 rounds per minute and effective firing range of 200 -25 meters.

Mr Herbert Muhangi, the FSU commander, said they suspect criminals got the guns from conflict-ravaged countries neighbouring Uganda like Somalia, South Sudan and DR Congo.

“True these guns are deadly weapons and are supposed to be with security personnel. But we suspect criminals get them from our conflicting neighbours,” Mr Muhangi said.
Mr Muhangi said the guns were majorly being used by criminals in car robberies, and kidnaps. A report shows FSU recovered 52 cars stolen by armed robbers, rescued five people alive whereas four were retrieved killed.

On December 16, a UPDF captain was arrested in connection with the kidnap and murder of an Eritrean businessman with the intention of stealing 2 million euros (Shs8 billion) from him.

Capt Hakim Mangeni and his alleged accomplices; Ben Lumu and Rucy Katuramu were arrested by FSU suspected to have killed Deniel Weldo. An SMG riffle was reportedly recovered during the arrest of the suspects who are believed to connive with bank officials to kidnap, kill foreigners and share their money in local bank accounts.

Earlier in August, a UPDF captain attached to the National Leadership Institute (NALI) in Kyankwanzi District was arrested alongside four others as they planned to stage a robbery on Masaka –Kampala Highway. They reportedly had an SMG gun.

Mr Joe Burua, the spokesperson National Focal Point on Small Arms, said they had received information about the recovered weapons by FSU and examinations were underway to establish the source. He said all guns in the country are owned by the State. These include fire arms in the hands of national security forces, private security companies and private individuals.

“An SMG riffle is not supposed in any way be in the hands of a civilian. They are imported by the State. In most cases the guns recovered from criminals are illegally smuggled in the country via DR Congo, South Sudan and Somalia,” he said.

Mr Burua said in previous cases some of the weapons recovered in criminals activities were being used by security officers themselves. For instance, he said a police or an army officer could be arrested for conniving with criminals to rob the premises they were guarding.

Police spokesperson Andrew Kaweesi also insisted that guns recovered from criminals are usually not marked adding that thugs get them through the illegal channels.

“We have occasionally arrested criminals with deadly weapons. But the weapons usually have no identification marks. We have intercepted many criminals and refugees entering the country with illegal guns,” Mr Kaweesi said.

Other guns recovered by FSU in 2016 include five semi-automatic pistols, one UZI gun, one toy pistol, one Micro-Galie and 11 star pistols.

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