Gun violence deaths rise as IGP Ochola claims drop

The Inspector General of Police, Mr Martin Okoth Ochola, signs a dummy of the Police Crime report for 2023 on Wednesday. 

What you need to know:

  • According to the crime report, some of the guns used in the shootings that resulted in deaths had been “fingerprinted” by the government and their records were in the police system

Gun violence has continued to rise with 330 people dead in the 300 cases of murder by shooting registered in 2023, which was a 7.5 per cent rise compared to statistics in 2022 despite several interventions by the government to curb shootings.

According to the crime report, some of the guns used in the shootings that resulted in deaths had been “fingerprinted” by the government and their records were in the police system.

Although the police statistics show an increase in gun-related violence and deaths, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martins Okoth Ochola said there was a reduction in the same crimes.

“Also, the police, in coordination with sister security agencies such as the UPDF (Uganda Peoples Defence Forces), prisons, SFC (Special Forces Command), JIC, JATT, combated various forms of crime. These joint initiatives have resulted in the reduction of gun-related crimes, illegal firearms and ammunition proliferation, terrorism,” IGP Ochola said.

According to the crime report 2023 that IGP Ochola released, murders by shooting rose from 279 in 2022 to 300 cases in 2023.

“A total of 330 persons were shot dead, of whom 298 were male adults, 25 were female adults, six male juveniles while one was a female juvenile. By the end of 2023, 81 cases of murder by shooting were still pending in court awaiting trial,” the report stated.

Of the 300 cases of murder by shooting, only 57 were taken to court while 73 were not proceeded with and 170 are still being investigated.

The report, which was released on Wednesday shows that the requests for firearm examinations also increased by 19.4 per cent.

Majority of the gun-related violence was reported in Karamoja region and neighbouring districts where joint security operations are being carried out to fight cattle rustlers followed by Kampala South and Kampala East regions.

Last year, several government officials, including President Museveni, reported a reduction in shootings and violence in the Karamoja region after the deployment of joint forces, but the police statistics show that cases increased compared to 2022.

For instance, Kaabong District, which had the highest murder-by-shooting cases last year, had an increase to 25 incidents in 2023 from 14 in 2022.

Nakapiripirit District that registered the second highest murder by shooting cases had an increase from five incidents in 2022 to 23 in 2023.

There was a reduction in deaths due to gun violence in Kotido, Napak and Abim districts, but the trio remained among the top 10 districts with the highest murder by shooting cases in the country.

In Kampala Metropolitan Area, police divisions of Katwe and Mukono registered high deaths by shooting.

Katwe jumped from two cases in 2022 to 11 in 2023 while Mukono District registered eight incidents last year compared to three in 2022.

During the police investigations of the gun-related offences using forensic science, they discovered that 30 firearms had been used in 86 incidents.

“Five of these firearms were legally registered while a total of 25 were illicitly acquired by criminals,” the report stated.

One of the cases that the police handled was on a scrap dealer, who broke into the house of a businessman, Mr Mustafa Kadala Nsubuga and stole a pistol containing several bullets in Rubaga Division, Kampala City, on May 8, 2023.

The suspect, Benon Tumwesigye, used the stolen pistol to carry out five robberies in Rubaga Division.

Tumwesigye was later arrested by police officers and the pistol recovered.

In 2018, President Museveni ordered the fingerprinting of all firearms in the possession of government personnel and those privately owned.

The police embarked on the process and by 2023, over 92 percent of the firearms in the possession of police, prison, private people and private security firms had been fingerprinted, according to police statistics.

However, the guns in possession of the army had not been fingerprinted.

Last September, President Museveni directed the fingerprinting of firearms managed by the army, but he ordered that the records should be kept by the UPDF investigations units.

The process is yet to start.