7 July 2007

Uganda: Most Wanted Criminals

"Most of these thugs have been arrested more than six times committing same offences but in different places of the country," Rapid Response Unit Commander David Magara told Daily Monitor on Thursday.

The nationwide operation follows intelligence information that about 100 most sought after suspects have recently resurfaced and are masterminding a spate of armed robberies around the country.

The Daily Monitor has since obtained the list of "40 most notorious" criminal suspects, a majority of whom were arrested in 2002 at the height of Operation Wembley, convicted, served their sentences, and are now "back in business".

Operation Wembley, headed by Brig. Elly Kayanja, was the codename of the national operation that went after hardcore suspects in a shoot-to-kill campaign. There has been an increase in cases of violent crime in recent months mainly in the Kampala City neighbourhoods of Kireka, Kawempe, Ntinda, and Naalya.

Areas farther away such as Malaba and Busia on the Uganda-Kenya border have not been spared either. The 40 are a part of 178 suspects arrested between June 17 and July 3 this year and are now in Response Unit custody in Kireka on the eastern outskirts of Kampala.

Police Spokesman Asan Kasingye said that 138 of those arrested have since been charged with murder, armed robbery, and illegal possession of firearms among other capital offences.

The rest are the "40 most notorious" suspects and were by Friday still being interrogated by the Response Unit in Kireka. Police say the 40 criminal suspects, having finished serving their sentences, have started to regroup, acquire guns, and are moving from one town to the next carrying out organised crime.

Mr Magara said that these "notorious" repeat offenders had not learnt anything from their recent time in jail, which was meant to reform them. "These are habitual criminals," Mr Magara said.

He called for tougher punishment. "For example, a murder convict should get a death sentence or life imprisonment," he said. He also blamed the courts that grant bail to serious crime suspects. "We struggle so much to arrest and prosecute them but they get bail from courts. Thereafter, they jump bail and then repeat the same crimes."

Mr Magara said there are many more criminal suspects out there that his unit is hunting. He declined to name names for fear of jeopardising his operations. Police said the released convicts have been regrouping with their colleagues who eluded arrest in the 2002 operations and had gone into hibernation or white collar crime.

The police authorities added that these suspects are also using private guards to rob banks, filling stations, and other businesses. Last week, a guard shot a released convict Charles Ondama in an armed robbery in Naguru. He had just completed his sentence in Gulu Prison.

The porous borders in the region are also fanning criminal activities. Mr Fred Wanyama and Mr Isa Waiswa alias Maziwa were arrested last week heading into Sudan reportedly to sell a stolen car. In the last three months, more than 52 cars were stolen in Uganda and sold in South Sudan and the DR Congo.

And Kenyan Tabu Iddi alias Mombasa and several Ugandans were arrested recently for repeatedly robbing people on the Kenya-Uganda border, and have since confessed to killing an American priest in the border town of Malaba in 2003.

Those arrested with Mr Iddi include Mr Alex Wekoye, Mr Moses Mudoola, Mr Sowedi Nyago, Mr Hassan Nkalubo, and Mr Musa Yasin. According to the Annual Crime Report of the Uganda Police Force, the total number of cases of crime reported to police in 2006 was 223,394, an increase of 23.8 percent over 2005.

There were 798 crimes committed per 100,000 people, a higher number compared to 661 in 2005 and 491 in 2004. The value of property lost was Shs116 billion, compared to Shs13 billion, the value of property recovered.

In response to this upswing in crime, the Police Force has reorganised the Criminal Investigations Directorate. It has created the Rapid Response Unit to replace the Violent Crime Crack Unit and placed it under the CID.

It has also created another unit - that of Crime Intelligence - to gather intelligence for RRU's swift action. According to Mr Kasingye, it is under this new arrangement that the police have arrested the 178 suspects, including the notorious 40.

The current ant-crime operation comes ahead of the Commonwealth Summit in November, which the government wants to pass without any criminal disturbances.

Arrested in 2002 and now rearrested for crimes in Kampala

1 Robert Mawerere

2 Anthony Kyangwa

3 Richard Sefu Sekimpi

4 Siraji Musoke

5 Muhammad Semakula

6 Kirizanjo Kawesa

7 Nicholas Wamimbi

8 Emmanuel Okech

9 Moses Etomet

10 Julius Kakooza

11 Daudi Bakasambe

12 Geoffrey Namwanja

13 Dodoviko Salongo

14 Kisalita Mugwanya

15 Willy Sekamate

16 Umaru Noah

17 Lameka Bamu

18 Sadiki Kakande

19 Rashidi Kigundu

20 Muhammad Senfuka

21 Shaban Muwanika

22 Vincent Kagoro

23 Gerald Bakojja

24 Samuel Sendiwala

25 John Nyanzi

26 Umaru Lubega

27 Ibrahim Kategaya

28 Sulaiman Muwonge

29 Ronald Tabu

30 Wanyama Fred

31 Fred Kawooya

32 Akis Alionzi alias Doctor

33 Moses Lubega

Arrested for crimes in Busia and Malaba

1 Isa Waiswa alias Maziwa

2 Iddi Tabu

3 Moses Yasin

4 Hassan Nkalubo

5 Sowedi Nyago

6 Alex Wekoye

7 Moses Mudoola

Arrested June 17 - July 4

Suspects, 178 arrested,

138 charged

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