Address return of night-dawn hitmen

Machete-welding thugs caught on CCTV camera at a residential premises in Nasana Municipality, Wakiso District recently. PHOTO/COURTESY

What you need to know:

The issue: Insecurity

Our view: ...we need to look deeper into the drivers of crime such as those mentioned earlier to find a lasting solution.

Many residents in Kampala City suburbs have reported increased burglary and the return of iron bat hitmen before and during the Easter holidays.

In January, shortly after President Museveni ordered the full reopening of the economy, there were reports that pockets of criminals had started attacking motorists on the Northern Bypass.

The reports declined as many businesses staggered their way back to normalcy.

However, there is heightened fear across the city and major towns after some people have been attacked and robbed of their belongings.

A series of police reports over the years indicate that crime is highest between April and June, and again in December to January. The hitmen target those moving at night whether on foot or cars, waylay people at gates, and in extreme cases raid homes to make away with petty items; sometimes they take people’s lives.

Boda boda cyclists, who are hired by those pretending to be customers, are also hit and their machines taken. There have also been cases of victims reporting to have been hit by boda boda cyclists who transport them at night.

Even better guarded people have been victims of the criminals. For instance Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu was in July last year hospitalised after she was reportedly attacked by iron bar hitmen. Some sections of the public have attributed this to the high level of unemployment in the country, drug abuse, and laxity in police operations.

However, we feel that the government can take a multipronged approach to solve the crisis once and for all. Here is how. Whereas over the years we have approached the problem of crime from a security angle, many times focusing action on law-enforcement, we should not ignore other aspects such as counseling and community engagements in crime-prone areas. We know, from the reports, what the hotspots are and thepowers that be need to target campaigns and enforcement in these areas.

Police reports have shown that crime is highest in low-income settlements in the city, and Kampala has many of them.

This means we have to intentionally invest in protective factors and supporting proactive community members and groups and institutions of learning so that they are involved in crime management.

We understand very well that whereas the judicial system and the police have a significant role in fighting crime, we need to look deeper into the drivers of crime such as those mentioned earlier to find a lastingsolution. How about we step up efforts to skill the unemployed youth, address socio-economic inequalities in communities, and improved service delivery?

The police have their work cut out, and so do auxiliary parties!

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