KALUNGU. As police led by a village security committee swung into action to arrest criminals who had raided the home of Ms Resty Nakyambadde in Mukoko Village, Kalungu District on Monday night, a mob trounced on one of the suspects, Muhammad Kiddawalime and killed him using stones and sticks.
Kiddawalime is one of two murder suspects -- the other being Musa Galiwango -- who escaped from Masaka High Court on March 1 and has been hiding until he resurfaced on Monday.
Although in Ugandan laws mob action is itself a criminal activity and whoever involves in it commits an offence, police have since defended the act.
Mr Lameck Kigozi, the southern regional police spokesperson, said the police have no plans of arresting any resident who participated in mob action as the circumstances under which it was done are justifiable
“We haven’t zeroed on anybody and we don’t intend to. This is not to support mob action, but poor residents did this in a self-defense way since the thug wanted to disarm our police officer,” Mr Kigozi said in interview on Wednesday.
Before their escape, the duo had been remanded on murder and other capital offences after allegedly killing and maiming several residents they attacked with machetes in Masaka Sub Region.
A number of people have also supported the decision taken by the residents to use the social court since Kiddawalime and his accomplices had terrorised the area for so long and have always walked without a scratch.
Ms Margret Nanyonjo, a resident in the area, said mob action was the best option and even when the second suspect is captured, he must be subjected to the same.
“They [Masaka attacks suspects] have murdered, raped, robbed and made many inhumane things. To be killed was the best penalty for the blood they have shade. Even if police had arrested and took him [Kiddawalime] to prison he could never reform,” Ms Nanyonjo said.
However, Ms Shifah Kateregga, the Executive Director Masaka Human Rights Defenders, said it was not good for the most wanted suspected to be killed in a mob.
“The police officers could have stopped this from happening. Two wrongs don’t make a right, the suspect could have been arrested so that he is tried in courts of law. We understand that the circumstances might have been tough, but if this is left unchallenged it will be taken as a formal way of handling issues in our communities which is not acceptable,” Ms Kateregga said.
Mob action is a serious crime, and all perpetrators, including bystanders and supporters, can be charged in the same way as if they personally committed the crime, as provided for under the Penal Code.
Meanwhile, resident have tasked police to award Ms Nakyabadde with at least half of the reward of Shs10m which was put on the suspects.
“They [Police] said any person who can avail information on the whereabouts of the suspects will be rewarded and we think this woman did so,” Mr Edward Musiitwa, resident of Mukoko, said.
Mr Kigozi said police are still discussing with several authorities who initiated the reward to decide on what should be done.