What you need to know:
- Ito was in Uganda to help improve road junctions to ease traffic flow in Kampala.
A Japanese infrastructure consultant, who was attacked three weeks ago while stuck in a traffic jam, has died, police have revealed.
Okira Ito died on Sunday after nearly three weeks in coma at the China-Uganda Friendship Hospital in Naguru, Kampala.
Ito, who had been working with Kampala Capital City Authority to improve road junctions in a bid to ease traffic flow and its associated problems, was attacked by a gang of criminals at Centenary Park on September 8.
The criminals also made off with some of his belongings.
“It is unfortunate that he died. Police had earlier arrested the suspects who attacked him on offences of aggravated robbery. We have preferred another charge of murder against the suspects,” Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango said yesterday.
Ito’s body was cremated on Monday in Kampala City. The ceremony was attended by senior officials from KCCA and Japanese agencies operating in Uganda.
According to police, the gang of about 30 people, mainly youth, were dressed in National Resistance Movement (NRM) t-shirts and were singing party songs.
Police said on the fateful day, Ito was being chauffeured to Hotel Africana when the group, which was returning from the Katonga Heroes and President Museveni’s 79th birthday celebrations at Kololo Independence Grounds snatched his bag from the car.
“The group took advantage of the window which had been lowered and grabbed the bag containing a laptop, two mobile phones and an unspecified amount of money. He got out of the car to pursue them,” Mr Onyango said.
The gang beat him up before fleeing the scene.
It was also revealed that Ito was attacked in an area which wasn’t covered by the police’s CCTV cameras.
The victim was later picked up by the chauffeur, who drove him to the hospital for treatment.
The police were then informed of the incident and launched investigations into the matter.
“We used private CCTV camera footage and call data analysis to establish the suspects who were at the scene at the time,” SSP Onyango said.
Nine suspects were arrested. The suspects led police to some shops in Kisekka Market where they sell stolen items.
Police raided the shops where they allegedly recovered some of Ito’s stolen property.
The suspects were produced in court on charges of aggravated robbery.
Mr Onyango said they were working with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to amend the charges to include the murder of Ito.
A senior official of KCCA, who attended the cremation of the deceased, said the attack would affect their relationship with the funders.
“After this incident, will another road expert agree to travel to Uganda when he has information that the person he or she is to replace was killed by criminals on the city roads?” the official, who asked not to be named, said.
The death of Ito triggered an operation against traffic jam crimes. The joint security agencies operation was carried out last week in Kampala City.
About the gangs
Criminals in Kampala often move in large groups commonly known as kuvuga ekigaali (moving in a group).
The criminals steal car parts as well as rob unsuspecting pedestrians and other road users.
They also attack anyone who attempts to stop them from committing the crime.
In June last year, James Kakooza, a city councillor, was hit with an iron bar by unknown criminals while he was jogging at Centenary Park. He later succumbed to injuries.
The criminals have never been arrested.