Kampala- At least 16 people have been shot dead by licensed guns since the start of the year, a search through publicly available information shows.
Five of the victims were shot dead by security guards after they were involved in arguments with the guards or were accused of committing crime, while the rest were killed by policemen on accusations of being criminal suspects.
With the killing in cold blood of Ronald Ssebulime last weekend still fresh, however, it is worth revisiting how security officers conduct their business. In the case of Ssebulime, the police had first claimed that he was killed during a foiled assassination attempt on ICT State Minister Ida Nantaba, but later admitted that there had been a cover-up of their crime. On Wednesday, police spokesperson Fred Enanga apologised and withdrew the police’s earlier statement, which indicated that Ssebulime was shot dead for allegedly planning to assassinate Ms Nantaba.
Mr Enanga explained that the decision was based on the findings of the Force’s special investigating teams looking into the events leading to Ssebulime’s death.
“We certainly said that what was first reported as typical police shooting where perceived dangerous suspects were shot at during a pursuit, is now an established straight forward case of murder,” Mr Enanga said.
Is it possible that even in the other shootings, some people could have been labeled as suspects whereas they were not; or non-lethal means could have been applied to arrest them.
In addition to the 16 documented shootings referred to above, at least four more people have been victims of gun attacks by unidentified individuals.
In most of the cases, the police have not released findings of their investigations into such shootings, leaving it to the public to speculate on what might have happened.
Close to a month after a reported heist in Kyambogo, for instance, the circumstances under which two suspected robbers were killed by Internal Security Organisation (ISO) remain unclear. ISO reported the incident as an encounter between its operatives and suspected robbers. But no definitive findings have been released.
Gunpolicy.org, a Sydney-based evidence gun control information portal, estimates that Uganda’s defence forces had 116,660 firearms while the police had about 54,000 in 2017. Civilians in Uganda were estimated to have 400,000 guns by 2007. It is clear that some of these guns are being misused.
Mr Obiga Kania, the State Minister of Internal Affairs, said: “It is sad that people are killed by guns but it is good that we are knowing the statistics because it informs what we are doing. The statistics itself are an indication where the guns are being misused.”
He said the government has already suspended issuance of guns to private individuals until the process of gun finger printing is complete. He added that the finger printing “should be a big deterrence for those who want to misuse the guns”.
Some of The incidents since the beginning of the year
January1: Brian Byaruhanga, a guard attached to Security Group Africa (SGA) shoots dead Dissan Ahereza, 18, in the chest following a scuffle between the two after the teenager, reportedly, resisted arrest.
January 1: Jimmy Juk, attached to New Uganda Securiko, shoots and kills an identified man, reportedly, an intruder at the home of Otuke Member of Parliament, Julius Acon.
January 7: Isaac Okwir, a security guard attached to Redteck Security Company shoots and kills Abubakar Kinene, a mechanic and resident of Kyengera.
January 8: Pius Tumuhimbise, a UPDF soldier, shoots and injures three people.
January 23: Caleb Muhwezi a security guard with Swatt Security Company shoots three people, killing one and injuring two others.
January 29: Police shoot and kill a suspected thug, arrest two others. Police say the thugs had robbed Nakusoke Najjemba, 60, at Kitende, on Entebbe road.
February 6: Unidentified man in a suspected robbery is shot and killed in Mutungo, Nakawa Division.
February 24: Four suspected robbers, including Edrisa Kayiza, Chris Wanika and unidentified two others are shot and killed in a reported foiled robbery at a warehouse belonging to Mukwano Enterprises.
February 29: Amos Muhebwa, a security guard shoots and injures singer Gravity Omutujju at LK Petrol Station in Bukuya Sub-county, Kassanda District.
March 2: Herbert Ayesigye, a 28-year-old trader, is killed and four others badly injured after being attacked by suspected armed robbers in Elegu Town, Amuru District.
March 5: Internal Security Organisation operatives shoot and kill two men suspected to be robbers in a Shs2.4 billion Kyambogo heist. One victim was posthumously identified as Pte Bright Turyatunga, a deserter from the army’s Special Forces Command.
March 15: Flying Squad Unit of the police shoot one dead, arrest three others in Mbarara.
March 17: A Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) game ranger, Sgt Philemon Asasira, is shot dead during an operation to crack down against illegal ivory trade.
March 24: Ronald Ssebulime shot and killed by police officers.
March 25: Richard Wani is gunned down by hooded gunmen at Pita Pump fuel station in Kamuli District. Three other people are injured in the incident.
March 25: Andrew Niwagaba, attached to the 35th Battalion Nyakabande in Nyakabande Sub-county in Kisoro District, shoots and injures Annet Uwimana, a sex worker at a pub in Russia Village in the Central Division of Kisoro Municipality.
March 25, 2019: Two unidentified suspected robbers are shot dead in Kamuli District after an attack on a petrol station.