KANUNGU/KASESE- The head of Kihihi Archdeaconry, the Rev Can Justus Tibesigwa, has criticised security agencies for the arbitrary arrests in the ongoing hunt for criminals who abducted a US tourist Kimberly Sue Endicott and Ugandan guide Jean Paul Mirenge.
The two were kidnapped from Queen Elizabeth National Park Ishasha Sector on April 2 by four armed men and released on April 7 after paying a ransom of $30,000 (about (Shs110 million). The money was allegedly taken to the neigbouring DR Congo where they were being held.
Locals say about 30 people have since been arrested from Kanungu District, mainly in Kihihi Town Council, which has created fear in the community.
Addressing the congregation during the Palm Sunday prayers, Rev Tibesigwa, who is also the former Kinkizi Diocesan Secretary, said even those who merely speak about the abduction are picked up.
“Some people are being arrested in bad faith, we need prayers on how police and security agencies are conducting the operation. Some people have been arrested because they have been “negligent” in their ways,” Rev Tibesigwa said.
He urged locals to be smart and careful in what they do to avoid trouble in the ongoing investigations.
The Deputy Resident District Commissioner, Mr Emmy Ngabirano, on Monday said out of 21 people being held at police, 10 have been freed and 11 retained.
The District Police Commander, Mr Julius Turyagumanawe, declined to comment on the matter and referred our reporter to the police spokesperson for Kigezi Region Elly Maate, who also referred the matter to the police headquarters.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga did not answer our repeated calls.
US President Donald Trump has urged Ugandan government to arrest and prosecute the kidnappers.
Meanwhile, Uganda Wild Life Authority (UWA) last week tightened security at the national park.
Two new ranger posts have so far been opened in the middle of the park and more forces deployed to ensure security.
“We (government), have decided to establish many ranger posts all over the park in order to seal off all security gaps. The isolated incident of kidnap last week awakened our security checks,” the State minister for Tourism, Mr Godfrey Kiwanda, said while launching the ranger posts on Friday at Queen Elizabeth National Park.
They launched the Lions Bay and Katore ranger posts.
Minister Kiwanda noted that government through UWA is planning to use technology to increase park surveillance by installing CCTV cameras for quick response to security challenges in the park.
He also announced a discount on all Easter offer charges as one way of giving back to the local visitors.
The deputy Japanese ambassador to Uganda, Mr Mizimoto Horri, who founded the construction of Lions Bay ranger post, challenged UWA officials to utilise the facility to achieve the intended purpose.
The UWA executive director, Mr Sam Mwandah, noted that efforts to secure Queen Elizabeth National Park were being limited by the 11 fishing villages inside the area and the three main highways that run through it.