Police recover 50 cars in 6 months

Saturday September 19 2020

A suspect demonstrates how cars are broken into using improvised master keys in Kampala last year. PHOTO/ANDREW BAGALA

By Benson Tumusiime

Theft of motor vehicles is one of the crimes that did not ease even during the Covid-19 lockdown, police records show.  
Mr Patrick Onyango, the deputy police spokesperson, told Saturday Monitor that over the past six months, at least 50 stolen vehicles were intercepted at borders as thieves tried to sneak them out of the country.

Mr Onyango said the figures for the six months immediately preceding this period were slightly less.  
“The crime of stealing vehicles has increased within this Covid-19 lockdown period even though the borders are closed. Car thieves have now resorted to using porous borders to sneak the stolen vehicles out to other countries,” he said.
The police spokesperson said they are now devising ways of plugging the porous borders. 
The practice of stealing cars has now taken a violent twist. The police have over the past few months recorded incidents of violence against people from whom vehicles were stolen.

On Wednesday Christopher Batte, 58, a special hire driver in Seeta, Mukono District, was killed by the people who had hired him. 

The shocking incident happened at Bbajjo Village, off Kampala-Jinja highway, in Mukono District. Two men and one woman asked for help from residents to push a car in which they were travelling, which was stuck in a ditch. As the residents offered a hand, they noticed that blood was seeping out of the car boot. 

David Kimbowa, a resident of Bbajjo Village, told Saturday Monitor that the curious residents tasked the occupants of the car to explain the source of the blood, to which the three responded that they were transporting slaughtered chicken. 
The unconvinced residents forced the car boot open, discovering Batte’s bleeding body.
The irate residents then severely beat up one of the men who had been travelling in the car while the other occupants – a man and a woman – escaped from the scene.     
Mr Luke Owoyesigire, the deputy police spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan area,  in a statement said the police in the area rescued man from the residents and he is  being treated for his injuries at Mulago hospital.

The investigations have not led to any other arrests yet and the suspect has not yet been interrogated since he is said to be in critical condition.  
Similar case
Mr Salim Semujju, also a special hire driver in Namirembe, Kampala, reported a case of kidnap and theft of his motor vehicle, registration number UAG 710X, a Toyota Spacio, at Old Kampala Police Station.


The kidnappers, he said, were two men who claimed they wanted him to take them to Entebbe. 

On reaching Kajjansi, Mr Ssemujju said in his statement, they asked him to pick up something off the road, from where they grabbed and tied him up before dumping him in a swamp and driving off  with the car.

The police investigation has not established what made Mr Ssemujju escape with his life while Batte did not. Did Batte know his killers? Did he resist and proved too powerful for his attackers, forcing them to stab him to death? Batte’s body was soaked in blood with a number of knife stab wounds on the head and arm.

A number of other cases were reported to the police in recent weeks, in which people packed their vehicles by the roadside or ungazetted parking areas in and around Kampala, only to return and find the cars stolen.  

Ms Annah Mutesi works with Diamond trust Bank. On July 29, she reported at the Central [Police Station in Kampala that her car, registration number UAQ 913Q, was stolen from Kampala Road where she had parked and entered a shopping mall. It was intercepted at Busia as the thieves tried to cross into Kenya.

Another victim, Mr Razak Matovu, reported at Old Kampala Police Station that he had parked his Toyota Noah vehicle, registration  number  UAJ 525K, by the roadside in Nakulabye, Kampala, as he went shopping, only to return and find it stolen. 
The search for it is still on.