Who benefits from the sprawling city crime?


What you need to know:

The issue: Crime

Our view: So, as the UPDF officer from Nakasongola asks, why do the security officials in Kampala think it is okay to live side by side with criminals?

In mid 2021, a military officer at the rank of Major, based in Nakasongola, drove to Kampala. He parked his vehicle opposite a police post in Kisenyi. He was in Kisenyi to determine the price of used chain link, to be used to fence a property. He elected to leave his phone and some money safely tucked away in the car, in the knowledge that no thief would dare to steal from a car packed opposite a police post. However, a few minutes later when he returned with rolls of chain link, he found that not only was his car unlocked but the phone and money were missing!

The furious Major then marched to the police post and accosted the officer on duty. He threatened to have the officer thrown in jail unless his cell phone could be found. After several minutes of the police officer making some frantic phone calls, a few young men were rounded up and brought to the police post. With the Major looking on in shock, the men surrendered a bunch of phones that they had just stolen. To his surprise, his phone was among those in the batch. Later, the men were thrown into the cell for a few hours and released without charge! 

This UPDF officer returned to Nakasongola asking himself why the police in Kampala know about every pickpocket and thief in the metropolis but are unable to arrest them, even after they return the stolen property. Of late, there are increasing reports of violent urban crime, where thugs attack pedestrians and motorcyclists with such brazen confidence, that it is beginning to look more dangerous to move about the metropolis unless you have a certified bodyguard.

Just last week, Tomson Mugisha, a 42-year-old teacher in Kawempe was returning home from the city centre in the early evening, when he was suddenly kicked in the neck and dropped to the ground, unconscious. Even with several people standing a short distance away from the crime scene, Mugisha stayed on the ground unattended to, for up to 10 minutes, with many afraid to intervene lest they become the next victims. Currently, Mugisha is in such a critical state he has not spoken a single word since. All this happened less than 100 meters away from a police post. When the matter made it into the media after someone uploaded the grainy CCTV footage onto TikTok, the police responded by picking up a one Derrick Mugisa, also known as ‘Musota’, who they claim, attacked the hapless Mugisha.  Many others are assaulted in broad daylight or occasionally in the evening, and only manage to limp away quietly, without anyone ever knowing what happened to them.

But perhaps more critical, security officials seem to be content to let things be until the hue and cry reaches the higher-ups in the forces, or even the commander in chief. Then an order for a crackdown will come and several able-bodied young men will be arrested, thrown into custody, and for a while, some sanity will return to the metropolis. That is, until a few of the men are released from custody.

So, as the UPDF officer from Nakasongola asks, why do the security officials in Kampala think it is okay to live side by side with criminals?

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