Sunday March 16 2014

Ugandans held in Congo return after nine months



Five Ugandan officials, who were arrested on Lake Albert by security officers from DR Congo and detained for nine months, have returned to Kampala.

The five officers included two police constables, Mr Steven Kapere and Mr Sylvester Opoka, and three fisheries officers, Mr Jimmy Bugambe, Mr Patrick Tumusiime and Mr Richard Tinka.

Mr Asan Kasingye, the director Interpol, Uganda, confirmed the return of the five on Thursday.
“They returned and we have reunited them with their families. We have given them a two-week leave and afterwards, they will come for redeployment,” Mr Kasingye said.

The officers were arrested by armed DRC security officers while on patrol on Lake Albert on May 29, 2013.
DRC claimed the officers had illegally accessed its waters, however, a verification revealed that they arrested officers were on the Ugandan side at the time of arrest.

Their release came after President Museveni visited Kinshasa for the Comesa meeting in the past month. President Museveni is said to have talked to his counterpart, President Joseph Kabila, about the officers.
However, the two SMG rifles the officers were carrying before they were arrested haven’t been recovered, Mr Kasingye said.

Uganda and DRC have always contested the borders of some water bodies, especially Lake Victoria. Often DRC officers arrest Ugandans on the same lake claiming they were sailing on its waters without authorisation.
Similar allegations are claimed by DR Congo traders operating on the Ugandan side.

Wrongly arrested
Democratic Republic of Congo claimed the five officers had illegally accessed its waters, however, a verification report vindicated them after it revealed they were on the Ugandan side.