Traders panic as armed thugs make come-back

A video grab of CCTV footage showing how three gunmen raided a Mobil Money shop and soda depot in Kassanda District on June 19, 2023. The armed robbers later shot dead a police officer who attempted to pursue them. PHOTO/ COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • Security reports around the country show that thugs armed with assault rifles can attack businesses that have cash as low as Shs1m and engage into a shootout with law enforcement officers.

Members of the business community, especially those who deal in huge sums of money around the country, are in panic following the increase in armed attacks on their trades. 

Security reports around the country show that thugs armed with assault rifles can attack businesses that have cash as low as Shs1m and engage into a shootout with law enforcement officers.

The latest incident was in Kassanda District where a police officer, Cpl Joseph Olaya, was shot dead as he pursued armed robbers, who had robbed millions of shillings from a shop at Kyakitanga Village, Manyogaseka Sub-county in Kassanda District on Monday.

Wamala Police Region spokesperson Rachael Kawala said the thugs were able to flee with the magazine of the deceased officer, but they abandoned their motorcycle.
Similar incidents have been reported in different parts of the country in the last few weeks.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga said everyone carrying huge sums of money should be cautious.
“The nature of the attacks include physical or direct attacks at the premises, and while in transit to and from the banks. This calls for vigilance, alteration of routine patterns, target hardening in form of guards and escort services, and a reduction or avoidance of late night movements,” Mr Enanga said. 

The rise in armed robberies was last registered in 2021 when several traders were shot dead by armed criminals, prompting many to close businesses before 7pm and also hire private security guards. 
The government recruited tens of thousands of Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel to protect businesses of foreign investors and also carry out patrols in dangerous areas. 

The LDUs have since been redeployed to other parts of the country and in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Criminals are now exploiting the vacuum.

On Saturday, thugs riding motorcycles attacked one Moses Mushabe, who was allegedly carrying Shs30m to buy land in Bweyogerere, Wakiso District. The thugs made off with the cash.

Another incident happened on Thursday when Ms Sylivia Ndagire, a mobile money agent at Kitemu Trading Centre in Kampala, was trailed by criminals, who later grabbed her bag that contained Shs3m and mobile phones. Her attempt to fight back prompted the thugs to shoot at her and left her with injuries. 

A similar incident happened to Mr Charles Mutabazi, an operator of agent banking, at Pece African Quarters on Wednesday. Thugs armed with an AK47 rifle robbed eight baking machines after beating up Mr Mutabazi. 
Last Tuesday, Mr Brian Nkalubo, a mobile money agent at Kinawa Trading Centre, was attacked by armed men, who robbed him of Shs1.5m before they fled on a motorcycle.
Three other similar incidents happened at Lodongo Trading Centre in Yumbe District on Tuesday.

The Kassanda District chairperson, Mr Fred Kasirye, said in his district, they have registered four incidents of armed robbery in just a period. 
Mr Sam Ssendege, a retail trader at Kyakitanga Trading Centre, said the shooting in Kassanda District left business people worried.
Ms Phobe Namulindwa, the Kassanda Resident District Commissioner, said the thugs are trying to cause fear in the community.

“The district security team is addressing the security gaps. We also advise the business community not to keep a lot of money in their shops,” she said.