Reviews & Profiles
Killings in the West: who is hacking people with pangas?
Posted Thursday, October 24 2013 at 01:00
A boda boda cyclist and university student were hacked to death at their house in Kamukuzi Division in Mbarara on September 28. The motive of the attackers. In another case, a Special Police Constable was killed from Bagdad Cell in Kakoba Division on September 29. In yet another, Christopher Batsikana, a crime preventer in the area was hacked to death by thugs as he went about his work. By end of September, at least 15 people had been cut in Sheema District alone.
October did not spare the people. Maria Bitumbwire, was one of them. Ms Bitumbwire had for some time been waking up very early regularly, to fend for her family. According to reports from the police and her husband, Stephen Bitumbwire, on the fateful day Monday October 14, she sauntered out of her bed at around 5am and embarked on making chapatti in the backyard of their home in Bushenyi town.
Members of a family killed
Marauding panga-wielding criminals then pounced on her, cutting her neck from behind. Her groaning got her son Alex Tumuboine dashing out of his bed to find out the danger that had befallen her. The panga men (or man) turned on Tumuboine and cut him on the forehead and the ear.
Bitumbwire who had been supplying chapatti to schools in Bushenyi, and her son Tumuboine died shortly after arriving at Kampala International University Teaching Hospital where they had been rushed.
Some of the victims have survived and Jackline Nareeba is lucky to be alive to tell her story. She says that the attacker cut indiscriminately and did not ask for anything when he invaded their residence on October 14. “He asked us to open the door and we thought he was a genuine person. He never asked for money or any other thing. He started to cut us,” Nareeba says.
Nareeba and three other colleagues Phiona Namanya, Emily Kyobutingi and Bibiana Katushabe worked as waitresses at Atlas Bar on Liberation Road. The assailant used a ladder to climb over the perimeter wall at night and accessed their residence.
He cut them severely on their heads and they were rushed to Kyeizooba Farmers Clinic. Namanya, 20, has since died.
So far, seven people – a girl, woman and five men from Bushenyi, Sheema and Mbarara districts have been killed while many others are nursing injuries at health facilities and homes as a result of the cruel hand of panga-wielding criminals.
For more than two months now, elusive criminals have created insecurity in the three districts.
Like the civilians, police and other security organs are puzzled by the zeal of the mysterious thugs who have sustained terror acts against their (security organs) heavy presence.
“They do it under concealment. They cut in one area and then go and cut people in another area. They keep moving. The motive is not known, they don’t steal. They cut to injure and sometimes they rape,” Ezekiel Emitu, Sheema District Police Commander, told Daily Monitor in an interview early this month.
With renewed attacks last week, this time in Bushenyi where seven people were cut on October 14 and 15 and three victims died as a result, people are panicking that the horrific acts will not end soon. Residents have been forced to suspend night activities and movements. Bars and hotels in Bushenyi have been instructed to register all guests and close early.
When the terror acts including raping of women intensified in Sheema in September, the district leadership asked for deployment of UPDF to beef up police. Some residents thought rebels had come to the area. Security officials however maintain these are mere criminals without any political agenda as some people say.
Five suspected perpetrators were arrested in Sheema. Two were released and three charged with aggravated robbery, murder and rape in Kakanju and remanded on October 1.
Addressing a security meeting in Bushenyi town last week, Greater Bushenyi Regional Police Commander Hilary Kulayigye said it will take a combined effort of civilians and security organs to eliminate the band of criminals, urging the public to give information on time.
“Bars and lodge owners should register any person that comes to be accommodated and close a bit early,” he said.
Kulayigye promised that security will be carrying out night patrols to foil movements of the criminals. But the police vigilance as pledged by Kulayigye has come under public scrutiny. Western Ankole Civil Society Forum in their press statement says policemen have been relaxed.
“What is so disturbing is that these hit men warned that they will be proceeding to Bushenyi with particular interest in Kizinda but no security precautions were put in place to fix the problem,” the statement issued on October 17 reads.