What you need to know:
President Museveni, in his capacity as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, appointed Maj Gen Katsigazi Tumusiime, 60, as Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP) on January 25. In this no-holds-barred interview, he tells our Reporter Amos Ngwomoya of his plans to draw the curtain on impunity among officers who have become law unto themselves, exit the corrupt through prison, end torture which is “illegal and cowardice”, and reveals options to address acute housing problem in the Force.
You have moved to Uganda Police Force from the army. So, who would you say you are?
I am Maj Gen Katsigazi Tumusiime. I was posted to Uganda Police Force in February, this year, to serve as the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIGP). Before coming to Police, I was the Deputy Commander of UPDF Air Force where I served for two years. Before that, I was a Defence Liaison Officer for Uganda at the East African Community (EAC) headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, where I also served for two years.
Before going to Arusha, I was the Chief of Staff of UPDF Land Forces [based at the them army headquarters in] Bombo. Before going to Bombo, I [served as] the Commander of the Motorised Infantry Brigade in Nakasongola. Before going to Nakasongola, I was the Uganda Contingent Commander [under the African Union Peace-keeping Mission in Somalia or] Amisom in Somalia between 2009 and 2010.
I also served as commander of the Military Police. I have done a number of courses in the military up to the highest which is the National Defence College (NDC). I am a lawyer by profession.
I was born in Rubindi in Mbarara District in 1960. I went to Rubindi Primary School and then joined Ntare School where I [took] my Ordinary-Level and Advanced- Level [classes] before joining Makerere University for a Bachelor’s degree in Law.
What do you make of the appointment [of you, a soldier] as Deputy Inspector General of Police?
Like any other assignment I have been previously given, I want to serve to the utmost for the benefit of the people of Uganda. This is like any other assignment and I always appreciate the opportunity to serve the people of Uganda. Yes, it is a challenging area. My profession is in the military, but I have been assigned a Police role which is not very strange because this is security sector where we have been serving. I have worked with police for a very long time because I once served as commander of Military Police. So, it’s not a strange area.
What strategy do you have as DIGP to fight crime?
Obviously, the insecurity in urban areas, especially Kampala, is a challenge to the government of Uganda. So, when I came in, I found that indeed there [was] that challenge. But my strategy is to ensure that I coordinate operations of police and insist on the level of alertness based on operational readiness of the forces. I will ensure that forces are ready to respond whenever called upon to curb crime.
But most importantly, we will involve the wananchi (ordinary citizens) because people have a role to play in combating crime. Crime is not one-sided and can only be defeated if there is proper coordination between the people and the police.
For instance, it is the people who know who stays where and sleeps where [who can volunteer information to law enforcement] because criminals are not strangers from other countries, but our own people. So, as long as there is proper coordination between the police and citizens, we believe we can defeat crime in the country.
There have been weaknesses here and there in police and this is known; mainly laziness, corruption, lack of response whenever called upon or even collusion between police and the criminals themselves. So, that one must be defeated because you cannot afford to have police aiding crime in society.
Therefore, I hope that by working together and forming a team and ensuring that police is ready in terms of logistics, for instance, the patrol vehicles must be there and fuelled, staff have to be facilitated and sensitising the population. I am sure this will mitigate crime in the country.
Crime in Kampala has taken a new dimension and this is common especially along the Northern Bypass and in suburbs where thugs riding [on motorcycles] track people carrying big sums of money. But this now will be a question of crime intelligence and how we defeat these criminals. But I urge the public to report these criminals because they have leads to where they operate.
Are there specific cases where police officers have been found guilty of corruption, and which gaps do you think ought to be closed?
I may not give specifics right now, but that information can be availed later about police officers who have been found guilty and were convicted by court. Some have been dismissed from police at least from the records that I read. They are investigated by the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) that is a unit in police that enforces professionalism. Others have faced the disciplinary committee and some of them have been convicted.
But generally, there is an outcry that whenever our police officers are called upon by the citizens, they don’t respond yet crime has been committed. They are at times called and fail to respond on time and that is an act of negligence, which must be condemned and I will not tolerate that. In some instances, suspects who have been arrested on serious allegations are given bond, and this one really annoys the public and I think this is one of the causes of mob justice. So, these are the areas we think can curb criminal tendencies if we step in.
That brings in the question of suspects who spend long hours in cells beyond the 24-hour [constitutional limit]. How are you going to address this?
Part of it again is negligence. Once a report has been brought to police, they are supposed to commence investigations before even arresting the suspect unless it is a crime where someone is committing murder. That one you may not wait for investigations or where someone has defiled a child.
But some other cases we need to investigate before we arrest suspects because sometimes people are arrested and put in prison and the matter isn’t handled. This is one of the reasons why suspects spend long hours in cells. Others stay longer in cells because Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) hasn’t commenced investigations on time and you find that someone has been in cells for a week, yet there no investigations made.
Again, it could be collusion where some officers want to squeeze money from suspects. All in all, this utter negligence by our staff because if they were doing their work then there wouldn’t be any problem.
Another issue which I need to investigate is that state attorneys delay to process files which also delays prosecution. So, it’s a combination of so many factors. But all in all, if people are doing their work there is no reason why a citizen should spend long hours in cells without knowing what they have done.
There is a public outcry that some investigations tend to delay due to sophisticated corruption.
As we said, corruption isn’t one-sided because there is a giver and receiver. That’s why I call upon the public to avoid giving bribes in exchange for service. Police shouldn’t be given money to do their work.
Secondly, we need to give you confidence that you can report these errant officers who are demanding for bribes to us and we shall take action against them.
We have actually commenced because there were recent cases in Bukwo District where police officers were negligent. We sent a team from our Professional Standards Unit (PSU) who investigated the officers and they will face trial.
But generally, we are looking at laxity in police and personnel who have overstayed in their area, police officers suspected to be colluding with criminals and we will fork them out.
What plan does police management have to address the appalling housing condition for its officers?
That’s true. I found a plan in place already and recently we were meeting our line ministers on a plan to handle the welfare of police especially accommodation. The issue is being handled and government is looking at a number of options, for instance, there a Pubic-Private Partnership.
It’s one of the options where we are looking for an investor who can build and then government pays. Another option is that we are looking at government agencies like National Housing and Construction Company and National Social Security Fund (Nssf) to fund accommodation of our police officers.
The third one is utilising our police construction unit to build houses for the officers. These options have been studied and were given up to the end of April, this year, to get the best option. Hopefully in the upcoming [2022/2023 Financial Year] budget we should be able to start construction.
This publication recently reported that CCTV [security] cameras which were installed in the city are faulty. How do you then rely on defective cameras to fight urban crime?
One thing that must be put on record is that there is no camera that is faulty. Secondly, the percentage of the so-called faulty cameras which was given is extremely alarming for no reason.
What is happening is that cameras are supplied by underground cables that connect a camera to the other which then feeds into the Central Command [at police headquarters in Naguru, Kampala] to get the images out. However, due to the ongoing road construction works across the city, these cables are destroyed and once this happens then there is no image that can come out.
But agencies doing road construction works always repair the cables. We are in discussion with agencies constructing roads to always give us advance information regarding scheduled roadwork so that we shift the cables and the exercise is quite expensive.
I think there has been lack of coordination between government agencies, but I would like to assure Ugandans that our cameras aren’t faulty. Secondly, cameras coordinate with each other; so, when one isn’t working, it affects the entire chain.
You come in at a time when Ugandans are still demanding answers for unresolved murders of high-profile officers such as former senior state prosecutor Joan Kagezi, AIGP Felix Kaweesi, the then Arua Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Abiriga … and the attempted assassination of Works Minister Gen Katumba Wamala.
Why the inordinate delay in concluding the investigations and releasing the findings to the public?
I don’t want to speculate because I hadn’t come to police [by the time the crimes happened]. But I will follow up and find out where the problem is. However, I suspect that there was negligence in earlier cases because if you look at Gen Katumba’s case, the suspects were arrested and it was proved that the guns which were used to attack him were the same guns used to kill Maj (Mohammed) Kiggundu. They looked at the cartridges and it was proved that they were the same guns that were earlier used. So, I suspect that failure to arrest these criminals could have worsened the situation.
But now that you’re in charge, what strategy do you have to ensure that such murders don’t recur?
These issues were mainly addressed by the President when he issued security guidelines including installation of cameras, finger-printing of all guns and tracking vehicles [with spy chips] to ascertain ownership and I think a contract has been awarded to a Russian firm.
The other issue is registration of boda bodas to ensure that they are identifiable. We also have intelligence cameras which track car number plates suspected to have been involved in committing crime.
But, most importantly, we are sensitising the public to support us by giving us information about criminals in their areas because human intelligence is the best. And, of course, training our intelligence officers on how they can quickly respond to crime. We are also using canine dogs to track criminals and they have helped us so much. We are hopeful that with all these measures in place, we shall fight crime.
Recently we have seen people being killed and the bodies dumped in septic tanks. How are you going to address this problem?
Our society is getting more callous that we no longer respect life where you find family members killing each other. The matter of people being killed and dumped in septic tanks is of great concern to everybody.
I don’t know what informs this callous behaviour. May be people are copying it from televisions [they watch], or it is the general moral decadence of society. As to how we can solve this, it is difficult for police because these are family members staying in a fenced home and you might not know unless you have been tipped.
I think we need to go back to our morals as society to fight such behaviour. But, of course, our officers will further study this problem.
Some of the police officers appear to act with impunity while executing their duties, which would be in breach of their work ethic. How will you restore discipline in Uganda Police Force?
Work ethics is contained in our Standard Operating Procedures and are known by police officers. But failure to enforce our standards has been the problem, someone has committed an offence and we just look on.
What we are lacking is enforcement of the law. If somebody has committed an offence or erred in any way, he or she must account for it. There won’t be any closing of an eye whether you are my friend or not, the law must take its course. That’s the only way to go and it has helped us in the military. It’s the fear of enforcement. You commit an offence, you pay with your eye, and that’s what will apply to police. I have made it clear to them and the laws are very clear. You must be put in prison and there is no short cut. The moment that is done, I am sure some people will go back to the ethics. It is general enforcement or taking disciplinary action whenever it is due. The tendency has been [just issuing] warning(s) [to] errant officers, but we are now going to put them in prison, and dismiss them. It has worked elsewhere and it must work in police.
Aren’t you scared of the resistance that you’re likely to face from within?
The good thing is that I am not the one bringing the law because the laws are already there. It is just failure to enforce. I am not going to create any law because I don’t have that capacity, but there are laws in the Police Act and they are clear on how to discipline a police officer who commits a crime. I am going to simply ensure that these laws are followed. Give me some little time and you will see the results.
What’s your take on police officers who illegally enforce land evictions?
This is again to do with work ethics. Police must enforce the law. Evictions of court orders come from court. Therefore, your work as a police office is to follow the law. If the court order directs you to evict then you can go ahead and evict.
What has been killing us is that police officers don’t follow the law and they become the law themselves. Instead of the district police commanders (DPCs) stopping the rich man from carrying out an illegal eviction, they side with him to terrorise the poor.
So, it is about disciplinary action. Actually, some court orders are fake; [they are] written by court clerks, not court registrars, and they (court clerks) work with police. But that is part of how we impart discipline in our police officers. That area is too much and our people are crying every day.
But it is a more complex issue because other problems are caused by land offices which create multiple land titles on one plot of land. I am studying the whole thing because it is more complex than just police because some of our political leaders are involved and tend to threaten our officers.
Opposition politicians accuse police of being partisan and selective while enforcing the law. How different will your approach be?
I have not seen such incidences. But as long as you follow the law no one will touch you. But the moment you cross over, then we shall come for you. It’s not negotiable, but rather following the law.
The issue of torture is one of the most pressing issues and it is alleged that this heinous act is done by security officers …
I have heard about people being tortured, but it’s not a good thing. Torture is not even not useful to us --- security officers --- because whatever information you get from a tortured person isn’t admissible in court.
The short time I have been in police we have had a meeting where we discussed this matter and showed how useless it is to torture. Again, it comes to the issue of ethical conduct of our security personnel. Incidences are there where our people have been identified to have tortured suspects and we have taken steps.
No security organisation encourages torture because it is cowardice. Torture is lack of ethics. About safe houses, we used to hear about them, but the government came out clearly and pronounced itself on the matter.
So, why is it hard to track security officers who torture civilians yet these victims are all over to help you with information about where they were tortured from?
I don’t think that it is very hard to track them and that’s why I told you that some security personnel suspected to have involved themselves in torture of civilians have been arrested.
May be the thing could be that our public relations people haven’t offered this information to the public. Sometimes our people wait until the matter is determined in court before telling the public what exactly happened.
But those who are torturing civilians are doing it on their own and not as an institution, and we are not sleeping. I intend to make visits to police stations to check out these issues because there is a tendency of arresting people, yet their details aren’t registered.
Some of those things are there but are majorly done by errant officers who want to squeeze money from suspects.