New Vision (Kampala)

31 December 2012

Uganda: Armed Gang Raids Eastern Uganda

The robbery of my hard-earned motorcycle on September 25, 2012 at Nabuyonga Bridge in the northern division, Mbale municipality, invited poverty into my family, which almost broke us apart.

"What I can remember is the man who approached me at Byakika stage at around 10:00pm wearing a black shirt and light blue jeans. He asked if I could drop him at Half London in Namatala and offered me sh2,000. We normally charge sh1,000 for that distance," says Mubarak Dombo.

Dombo adds that he could not turn down such an offer, but little did he know that it would cost him his motorcycle. He says the man asked him to stop in a dark corner, pretending to be answering a phone call. He then pulled out a gun and ordered him not to turn or shout, otherwise he would blow his head off.

"I bowed to the pressure to save my life because I knew that life is my capital," Dombo says. When I reached home, my wife and children could not believe my story and demanded to know where the motorcycle was.

"Two of my children were chased from school because I could not afford fees and that marked the beginning of my suffering. When I reported the matter to the Police, they asked me the type of gun the man was carrying," Dombo adds.

"Cases of day robbery have increased despite the fact that there are always security personnel on patrol. "We call upon the Police to help smoke out the thugs," says Simon Tainula, a shop attendant along Pallisa Road.

Jacob Opolot, the eastern regional Police commander, said three suspects were on December 15, arrested and paraded before journalists at Mbale Central Police Station.

At a press conference in Mbale town, Opolot displayed one AK47 rifle with over 30 live bullets and three fake car number plates recovered from the suspects.

"Day robberies and murder of businessmen have increased, forcing the Police to raid Busia,

Mayuge, Mbale, Kibuku and Tororo towns after a tip-off from residents. We started following them from the time one Kakungulu, a businessman, was reportedly murdered on Kumi Road at his gate in the Indian quarter," Opolot said.

He revealed that over the last two months, three businessmen and two security guards have been killed and petrol stations and shops belonging to Indians robbed.

In a recent shoot-out with robbers in Busia, one of the suspects was injured as the group was fleeing in a car they had stolen from Hamba Stores in the Indian quarters in industrial division, Mbale municipality.

Opolot said security had been lax, giving the thugs the opportunity to terrorise residents, but added that there is an ongoing investigation into where the guns are got from.

"I cannot rule out that some of the security personnel are hiring out guns. The matter is being handled and soon we shall tell you the outcome," Opolot said.

He said for the districts of Mbale, Busia, Malaba, Sironko, Pallisa, Namutumba and Tororo, the Police

had declared them high risk, especially during the festive season and warned that security will not hesitate to deal with anybody suspected of disturbing the peace.

Opolot added that authorities have drawn what he termed as operational tactical plans, which have been set up in different notorious areas within Mbale municipality to ensure peace during the festive season.

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