The crime reports from different parts of the country indicate a worrying trend. Just as the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, on Friday announced sweeping changes in the police leadership of Lira District following rising crime and reports of mismanagement of cases, residents of Mbarara District were petitioning the IGP over deteriorating security.
It should be recalled that violent crime took an upward trend last year, with several brutal murders recorded across the country. Late last year, chilling murders were reported in the western districts of Bushenyi, Sheema and Mbarara.
It is even more disturbing that the crimes are said to be committed by an elusive machete-wielding gang who attack people at night by climbing over perimeter walls using ladders; they rape women and invade bars to hack people.
According to the petition by Mbarara residents published in the Sunday Monitor, since October last year, close to 10 people have been killed by gunmen or hacked to death. The changing nature of attacks and sheer audacity of the criminals is alarming!
Fighting this nature of crime is complex given that it is also widespread. Since last year, despite heavy deployment of security forces in dangerous areas, many of the criminals have eluded arrest and they continue terrorise people in various parts of the country. Before invading parts of western Uganda late last year, brutal killings were reported in Masaka and Rakai districts where a clandestine group was killing people.
Current reports indicate that the crime wave has hit Lira district in northern Uganda. Last week, armed thugs reportedly disarmed a security guard at a supermarket and stole unspecified amounts of money. The robbery came just days after traders in Lira Town shut down their shops in protest against the deteriorating security situation in the area.
The situation is worrying. It is, therefore, time to move beyond the routine crime response of the public “appealing to police to intervene” and the police “appealing to the general public to be vigilant”. The country should invest in a comprehensive plan for long-term crime prevention by, for instance, closely studying the nature of these crimes. The findings could be instrumental in tackling the problem in a sustainable way.