Numerous armed robberies have been registered in Kampala City, Wakiso and Mukono districts in the last five weeks where people have been killed and others injured.
However, guns recovered in these robbery missions have been found to belong to the armed forces; Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Uganda Police Force (UPF) and Uganda Prisons Service (UPS).
Last week, police killed one armed thug while his two accomplices were arrested in a shootout after a chase that started at Kitende on Entebbe Road up to Kabalagala on Ggaba road in Kampala.
The Kampala Metropolitan region police spokesperson, Mr Patrick Onyango, said the thugs had robbed a woman Nakusoke Najjemba, 60, at Kitende in Kajjansi Division.
A relative called the restored 999 police patrol code that thugs travelling in a car had robbed the old woman of her money and other valuables.
Police launched a hunt for the thugs and subsequently intercepted them around Kabalagala. In the fire exchange, one criminal was shot dead.
“Two were arrested and have been identified as Frank Kalule and John Mbayitayizibwe. The deceased was only identified as Mohammed. The thugs are currently detained at Kabalagala Police Station as investigations continue,” Mr Onyango said.
Sources said the gun recovered belongs to the army. There have been many armed robberies in Matuga, Kololo and Bweyogerere where police and army guns have been recovered from killed or arrested suspects. Matugga police thwarted a robbery attempt at Kiwa Hardware Shop along Semuto Road recently.
The Kampala Metropolitan Region deputy police spokesperson, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, said the foiled robbery was a response to gunshots fired by a PSG security guard.
He said Matuga police responded and found the robbery in progress, the hardware had been broken into and materials were being loaded into a vehicle.
Upon realising they were under police siege, the robbers opened fire in retaliation but two were put out of action while another suspect succumbed to his bullet wounds after fleeing the scene.
Mr Owoyesigyire said preliminary investigations established that the suspects took advantage of loading vehicles parked at the hardware entrance to cut the padlock and accessed the stores.
“We thank courageous PSG security guard that alerted police for intervention. We urge the public to always call police whenever they witness anything suspicious,” Owoyesigyire said.
He declined to reveal particulars of the recovered rifle, but police sources said the gun belongs to the UPDF. A vehicle that was used in the robbery was impounded and taken to Mattuga Police Station.
The Matuga incident came two days after boda boda riders in Kololo saved a woman, Janat Kobusingye, a mobile money agent, who was being robbed at gunpoint at Phillip Mukasa junction near Interpol Police Uganda offices in Kololo.
Mr Owoyesigyire said three men came on a boda boda and one pointed a gun at Kobusingye. Dazed with fear, Kobusingye pointed at a metallic box which contained the money she had made that day.
The thug picked the box and joined his two colleagues on a waiting motorcycle which started speeding away.
“The victim made an alarm which prompted the response of boda boda riders who arrested two suspects and handed them over to our police officers at Interpol,” Mr Owoyesigyire told Daily Monitor. A police gun with was recovered from the suspects. The case was recorded as CRB 1057/2018.
A day earlier, a joint operation by security agencies had led to the arrest of armed robbers suspected to have been involved in a series of robberies and escaping on motorcycles.
Police identified the suspects as Lawrence Okello, a resident of Namawojjolo, Anthony Ouma from Namuwongo and Grace Kahunde, a suspected custodian of stolen motorcycles. Upon arrest, a sub-machine gun was recovered from them.
Mr Owoyesigyire said the arrest was triggered by the murder of a boda boda rider identified as Wellaci Makumbi, who was shot dead in Bweyogerere and robbed of his motorcycle.
Police said Okello confessed before the security team that he had shot Makumbi in the head on orders of his leader Hassan who escaped.
Okello told police he had met Hassan at one of the buildings around Kisekka Market where he briefed him on how he could make quick money by carrying out high-level motorcycle robbery missions.
“Okello alleged that Hassan brought an SMG gun in a bag and after using it to kill Makumbi, he was told to meet him in Namuwongo for his payment as he took off with the stolen motorcycle plus the gun,” Mr Owoyesigyire told Daily Monitor.
Upon searching Kahunde’s home, the security personnel recovered Makumbi’s motorcycle and an automatic rifle, a preserve of the army, hidden in a bag under a table.
The suspects were detained at Bweyogerere Police Station on charges of murder vide CRB 270/2018 contrary to section 188 and 189 of the Penal Code Act. Investigations are still ongoing.
When asked how criminals accessed police guns, Mr Onyango said the rifles are sometimes stolen from police officers on their way to or from duty by criminals. He cited an incident where two police officers who were killed by criminals in Kawempe and their guns taken.
“When we recover a gun from criminals, we go back to the data base and trace the police station where it belonged and who was the last holder. That gives us a picture on whether the gun was stolen as a result of negligence or it was an attack,” Mr Onyango expained.
While responding to the same question, the UPDF spokesperson Brig Richard Karemire, said the army often commissions an investigation whenever their guns are recovered from criminals.
“We check our inventory data bank to trace the last holder. Once we establish the facts, we crack the whip,” Brig Karemire said.
A former security guard told Daily Monitor that guards sometimes lend out their guns to criminals in exchange for pay. He said while he worked with a private security firm in Makindye, he lent out his gun seven times and sometimes participated in the robberies in Kawempe, Matugga, Lyantonde and Arua.
“I was earning Shs130,000 and that money was too little for my needs. I could hire out my gun and sometimes I could earn Shs15m. My colleagues admired me for having money and I often bailed them out of financial problems,” the security guard said.
Report by the police Flying Squad
Findings. A report by the police Flying Squad Unit (FSU) last month reveals that criminals are using guns from security agencies to carry out robbery missions. Findings showed that 11 out of 20 guns recovered from the criminals between July 1 and December 31, 2018 belonged to the UPDF while five were from the Uganda Prisons Service and three from the police force.
Operations. During the security operations, a Semi-Automated Rifle (SAR) and an army uniform were recovered in Kampala North (Kawempe), an army bag and uniform were recovered in Entebbe. Three sub-machine guns (SMGs) all belonging to the UPDF were also recovered in greater Masaka area. Three SMGs belonging to UPDF and one for police including two pairs of black UPDF shoes and two pairs of army uniforms were recovered in Kira region in Jinja.
“Two SARs and fifteen rounds of ammunition were recovered in Rwizi region (Mbarara), six SMGs (five for Mayuge prisons and one for UPDF) were recovered in Busia,” the report signed by SSP Kakonge’s reads in part.
Similar report. Mr Kakonge’s report did not differ much from his predecessor, ACP Herbert Muhangi’s report released in January last year where Lira District registered the highest number of gun-related violence. Lira accounted for 18.8 per cent of gun-related crime, followed by Gulu at 10.4 per cent. However, only one case out of 10 gun violence cases registered in Lira was investigated to conclusion. The majority were still under investigation by the time the report was released.
Arrests. The suspect found in illegal possession of an SMG registered on May 2, 2017 was arrested and taken to court. The gun belonged to the police.
In Gulu, six people were arrested for illegal possession of guns. One suspect was prosecuted and sentenced to three years, whereas others were still under investigation by the time the report was released.