Police step up raids in city amid rising crime

Suspects at Jinja Road Police Station. Photo/Courtesy of police

What you need to know:

  • The arrests aim at curtailing the rising crime rate in the city.

Police are carrying out raids in which they are arresting suspected criminals in city suburbs and townships in an attempt to reduce crime. 
More than 300 youth have been arrested in Kampala City alone in the last two weeks. 
Several other new cities are also carrying out their own operations against suspected criminals.
The operation around Kisekka Market and Makerere yesterday turned violent and the police had to fire tear gas to suppress youth, who were attempting to obstruct officers from carrying out arrests.
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Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Patrick Onyango said 87 youth were arrested in the operation.
“We have been getting complaints of thugs targeting motorists in those areas. Our officers raided the dark spots in the area, where they recovered several suspected stolen items,” Senior Superintendent of Police Onyango said yesterday. 
Violent crime in the suburbs has become rampant despite heavy investment in security infrastructure and human resources. 
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said they were experiencing a surge in crime countrywide. Mr Enanga confirmed that operations to curb crime are ongoing.

In Kampala City, motorists do not want to drive during rush hours for fear that their vehicles will be vandalised during traffic jam. Criminals also waylay pedestrians.
Unfortunately, many criminals are successful in their activities but the police efforts to arrest the actual suspects and recover property have been slow. 
The police have resorted to laws, which the colonialists used to arrest poor people they suspected to be criminals in their neighbourhoods or townships, to clear the streets and nooks. 
Majority of the suspects, who are in the age between 14 and 30 years, arrested were charged with the offence of common nuisance contrary to Section 160 of the Penal Code Act. 

According to Section 160 of the Penal Code Act, “any person who does an act not authorised by law or omits to discharge a legal duty and thereby causes any common injury, or danger or annoyance, or obstructs or causes inconvenience to the public in the exercise of common rights, commits the misdemeanour termed a common nuisance and is liable to imprisonment for one year.”
The offence does not require police to have the degree of evidence as it is with offences such as robbery and theft.
Mr Onyango defended the use of the offence, saying it helps target known criminals who detectives find difficult to pin on any specific offences. 

“If you look at the statistics in Kampala Metropolitan Police, the majority of the suspects are young, unemployed or in disguised employment. They say they engage in crime to earn a living.  Therefore, the police are on the receiving end. We need all stakeholders to find solutions that are forcing youth into crime,”  he said.
The police often used the offence of idle and disorderly to carry out arrests of suspected criminals until President Museveni issued a directive that they stop using colonial laws that target the poor and unemployed.
In 2019, President Museveni directed a process to repeal such law. The offences are still in the law books since the amendment of the Penal Code Act and can only be undone in Parliament after a Bill has been presented, which hasn’t been done.
Since February, the crime rate has been high. Police have attributed the crime to the effects of the two-year lockdown. 
One of the latest incidents was the killing of Suzan Alweny, a lawyer, who was an employee of Liberty General Insurance. She was hit with a blunt object on the head before the thugs jumped on a motorcycle and fled at Kiwatule, a city suburb, after she made a stopover to buy food. 
In September, thugs used the same style and killed George Ekochu, a relative of Captain Mike Mukula, when he walked from his home to buy groceries in Namugongo, Wakiso.


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