Schools for the blind lose 38 computers in theft syndicate

Mr Isaac Muhumuza, teacher of computer studies at  Masaka School for the Deaf, showing the accessories that remained after the theft. PHOTO/ANTONIO LALYANGO

What you need to know:

  •  The three incidents happened in the same week (July 1-6) despite the schools being located in different regions.

Teachers and learners from three schools in Masaka, Ngora, and Kabale districts are still puzzled about how thieves broke into their computer laboratories and stole equipment worth millions of shillings.

The three incidents happened in the same week (July 1-6) despite the schools being located in different regions.

At Masaka School for the Deaf in Bugabira, a Masaka City suburb, thugs made off with nine desktop computers and a projector worth Shs30m.

At Hornby High School Junior in Kabale Town, 19 computers and magnifying glasses worth Shs295m were stolen while at Ngora School of the Blind, 10 computers, a sound amplifier, projector, and printers worth Shs127m were taken.

Mr Isaac Muhumuza, a computer teacher at Masaka School for the Deaf, said the thieves broke into the computer lab at night on July 1 through the windows.

‘’They [thieves] removed the burglar-proof and passed through the windows. Those shameless people left the computer room with only mouse combos and keyboards,’’ he said in an interview on Tuesday.

The affected schools were among the institutions that benefited from the computer resource centre offered by MTN Foundation through Sense International- Uganda last November.

Ms Florence Nambaziira, a teacher at Masaka School for the Deaf, said the learners, who have been using the computers to learn practical science, mathematics, and other subjects, will lose a lot.

Ms Patience Atim, the head teacher of Ngora School of the Blind, said the incident at her school happened on July 5.

“We reported the matter to Ngora Central Police Station and investigations are underway. We have only managed to recover some tools that were used to break into the computer lab,” Ms Atim said.
She said the incidents seem to be a syndicate.

“We are interested in the government investigating this matter to its logical conclusion because the computers at the three affected schools were stolen in the same period,” she said.

Ms Rhona Arinaitwe, the senior manager of corporate communications at MTN Uganda, asked police to conduct thorough and expeditious investigations into the three incidents.

“It’s unfortunate that this project has not realised our intended objectives of improving the academic standards in the schools because of insecurity. However, we’re already in touch with the police which is investigating to enable us to know what exactly happened,” she said.

Mr Elly Maate, the Kigezi regional police spokesperson, said three suspects, including a computer teacher, security guard, and casual worker at Hornby High School Junior, have so far been arrested to help with investigations.

“The accused persons allegedly conspired and broke into the school and stole the computers,” he said.

The school head teacher, Mr Godfrey Beinomugisha, said nine of the stolen computers were donated by the Ministry of Education.

“Losing these computers is a big blow, these students with special needs and other students have been using them very well, and teachers had started to use them in making research,” he said.

Compiled by Issa Aliga, Robert Muhereza, Simon Peter Emwamu, Emmanuel Arineitwe & Antonio Kalyango