Fear as armed robbers terrorise city suburbs

 Police officers monitor CCTV camera footage in Kampala. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • The crime wave comes in the wake of a security crisis in Greater Masaka where machete-wielding men have killed some people.

A crime wave of armed robbers has hit parts of the city and its suburbs, causing fear among people.

CCTV footage shared on social media over the last couple of days shows sporadic incidences of unknown well-built and hooded men armed with machetes climbing over perimeter walls to access homes of people in the dead of the night, to rob and cause terror.

Upon accessing the premises, they meticulously pace around while wielding their machetes to prepare for any retaliation before they strike, triggering screams and alarms.

However, the footage being circulated on social media is only from homes that are fitted with CCTV cameras. Similar incidences could have gone unnoticed especially in squalid homes without the same security mechanism.

Last weekend four unidentified men armed with machetes walked in the compound of Mr Paul Kayemba Ssempijja at Kibwa Zone, Nabweru in Wakiso District but fled after an alarm went off.

This jaw-dropping crime wave comes in the wake of a security crisis in Greater Masaka where machete-wielding men have killed some people and left others injured, leaving the entire sub-region on tenterhooks.

The latest grotesque crime incidences in both Masaka sub-region and Kampala Metropolitan area point to the security voids which, if not immediately plugged, could cause more terror.

In some places, unknown people drop leaflets announcing their planned attack on homes. 
However, Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesman Luke Owoyesigyire yesterday denied the existence of machete-wielding men in the city and its suburbs.

Though the men who accessed the home in Kibwa Zone, Nabweru, had pangas, Mr Owoyesigyire said that ‘they were just thugs’ and not connected with those in Masaka.

“We don’t have machete-wielding men in the city, we have thugs. There is nothing like what is happening in Masaka. Yes the CCTV footage from Kibwa in Nabweru shows that they are holding pangas but it doesn’t mean that they are machete wielding and they didn’t hurt anyone and we are looking for them,” he said.

Asked what measures police have put in place to counter the new crime in the city, Mr Owoyesigyire said they are working with communities to have emergency responses such as neighbourhood watch, community policing, and engaging with other security agencies.

Some city local leaders who spoke to this newspaper yesterday asked security forces to heighten operations in the city suburbs, especially during the night, to contain the situation.

The chairperson of Mayuni Zone in Bwaise, Kawempe Division, Mr Abdulnoor Migadde, said the incident of Nabweru has left his people scared.

“We are now on alert because the same thing could happen to us. I am calling upon people to be vigilant and report any suspicious people in their areas, and also have security lights all over their homes, but they also need to embrace neighbourhood watch,” he said.

Kampala Resident City Commissioner (RCC) Hussein Hudu said the city’s security committee will meet and discuss on how to fight the suspected machete-wielding men. 

Kampala Metropolitan area is one of the crime hotspots in the country according to police. According to the Annual Crime Report for 2020, Kampala Metropolitan North registered 3,149 theft cases while Kampala Metropolitan South registered 2,788 cases.