Why are students a target for murder?

Police have cautioned institutions to work with them to curb murder cases of students. File photo

What you need to know:

In less than two months, more than five cases of rape and murder have been reported in the media. Most of these are of female students from both secondary schools and university. Our reporter spoke to authorities and they explain what is being done to curb these murders.

Of late, cases of rape and murder of students have become common in the media and in police briefings. A case in point is in Mbiko village in Buikwe District where residents found the body of an unidentified woman in her mid-20s dumped in a maize plantation.
The deceased had injuries on her head and it is suspected that she was beaten to death by unknown assailants. This incident comes nearly a fortnight after 19-year-old Desire Mirembe, daughter of Kalungu District chairperson Emmanuel Musoke, was found dead in a sugarcane plantation in Lugazi also in Buikwe District.
Police said the deceased was found lying in a pool of blood with her body maimed.

In another incident, Zaharah Babirye, a Senior Three student at Bassajjabalaba Secondary School in Bushenyi, was raped and killed. She met her death as she walked from school back home in Omurushenyi Cell, Ward D in Ishaka Division of the Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality.
In May, Beatrice Mudondo, a student at Makerere University Business School (Mubs), was found dead.

Why students are targeted
Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson, points to lack of security vigilance, parents’ negligence and relationship disputes as the causes of these murders.
He says some students have not done much to protect their life and don’t mind about the environment they are in and the time they should be there.

Citing an example of Rehema Nassali, Enanga says parents are partly to blame over the killing of children.
“Why do you make your child sell merchandise up to late in the evening? Such children cannot hesitate when strangers call them. They go thinking they are clients and end up being raped or killed” Enanga says.

He advises students to change their lifestyle, for instance, going dancing in slums and keep away from friends who like walking late in the night. Education institutions are advised to clear the bushes around premises such as classrooms, hostels and collaborate with police for security patrols during night.
While speaking to Daily Monitor last month, Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, cited robbery, conflicts in personal relationships and land wrangles as the major causes of these murders.

Police action
Police had arrested a number of suspects where some had been detained in different police cells whereas others were still answering charges in courts of law.
“As police, we have so far arrested several suspects believed to have involved in the killing of students. Investigations and security patrols have been intensified,” says Enanga.
Citing an example of Lugogo By pass, where police have put a police booth after the area became a murder hot spot, Onyango noted they had intensified foot and motorised patrols to crackdown perpetrators.

Views from school administrators, students
Ritah Namisango, head of the public relations office at Makerere University, says they are concerned about the ongoing murders of students thus they are putting up measures to ensure safety of administrators, staff and students.

Among the measures the university has put in place is the installation of security cameras in strategic places, training student leaders on how to handle security matters and setting up security committees comprised of managers, students’ leaders and police.
Besides, “the university is eagerly waiting for President Museveni pledge to provide the Shs5b for erecting a perimeter wall,” she added.
Vincent Omedo, the head teacher of St Agnes Primary School in Kisugu, says they have emphasised children being picked up by parents and registered caretakers. In addition, the school gives security tips to children every Monday and Friday while in classes and during general assemblies.

Students’ take
Jacky Chebwomoi who is pursuing a degree in public administration at Kampala International University (KIU), says she does not receive strange calls at night as one of her security measures. She adds that even when she goes out with classmates, they always return to their hostels before 10pm and they walk in groups.
Ashley Kyokunzire, a business administration student at YMCA Comprehensive Institute has ensured her safety through desisting offers from strangers.
“Many times, men have tried to entice me with lifts and gifts whenever I am walking home. I make them understand that I am not a person to be deceived with presents. I am studying to have my own in future,” says Kyokunzire.

Security tips for students and institutions
Enanga advises students not to accept to offers such as lifts from strangers or holding conversations with unknown people in strange places, no matter how innocent or lifesaving it may appear.
You are advised not to be diverted from your programme even by people not known to you when moving or travelling from any place to another unless it is your parents, guardians or siblings.

“Institutions are advised not to be surrounded by any bushy or undeveloped land. This can be achieved through coordinating with police to ensure some form of deployment or regular patrol of your property,” Enanga explains.
If the university is in a commercial area, that could serve as a staging point for wrong doers. Administrators are advised to ensure that such corridors are heavily protected.
Thorough interior and exterior vehicle inspection, presentation of identity cards of all parties in the vehicle and parties must exit the vehicle to be properly searched.

Schools should have an armed police officer observing the surroundings of the access point. Armed personnel should never participate in the inspection process to avoid the risk of being disarmed.
There should be a clear line of sight along the perimeter fencing, at areas of access points, across the grounds and hostel surroundings.