On February 8, 2013, three rogue policemen nearly pulled off a stunning robbery of movie proportions.
However, the bad cops' plot to ransack Excellent Assorted Manufacturers Ltd, a soap-making company based in Kyengera, a Kampala suburb, leaked to the good cops and was, therefore, nipped in the bud. The three rogue policemen, with their hired helpers, used a police patrol truck UP 0618 to raid the factory after a month of careful planning.
Unknown to them, the police had been tipped off by a former employee of the factory. Consequently, the factory management was advised by the police to switch off electricity at around the time the thugs were expected.
The robbers included Sgt James Okello, a driver attached to Kajjansi police station, one Walunyonju of the same station and Nelson Chemonges attached to Kabalagala police station.
They had planned to rob the factory on February 8, 2013 and the plan involved offering the security guards, who are UPDF veterans, chloroform-laced sodas. The robbers were supposed to pounce on the now unconscious guards and execute their evil mission with ease.
However, on the evening of the planned robbery, the police planted its men in strategic positions inside the factory. The idea was to trap the robbers inside the room that houses the safe. In all, the police took up six positions. Outside the factory, crime intelligence officers were deployed to keep an eye on the robbers' movements. Meanwhile, the UPDF guards were instructed to feign unconsciousness after being fed on soda and chicken.
"They poured the soda and removed the meat from the chicken to pretend they had drunk and eaten. After a few minutes, the robbers' contact checked in on them to confirm that they were unconscious, which was a signal for the robbers to enter the premises," a policeman told us.
At 8:30pm, four robbers arrived in the police patrol truck and their contact opened for them as planned. They parked the police vehicle inside the factory, facing the gate. A few minutes later, another two robbers were dropped off by a boda boda motorcycle UDV 272N.
With all the six robbers now inside, they locked the gate, a move that would later prove ill-advised. Inside, an assortment of equipment, including master keys, pliers and screwdrivers to be used in breaking into the safe, had been arranged for their use. Police would later learn that the master keys were provided by one of the suspects, a well-known welder.
The contact, who was in league with the police, then led all six robbers, now carrying rifles, to the safe, upstairs, as he had been detailed. The plan was for him to escape into an adjacent door once the policeman stationed there had taken over. However, the move didn't go according to plan because the robbers, the police say, sensed that something was wrong.
As the contact escaped into an adjacent room, he caught the detailed policeman unawares. That policeman, Charles Okong, was shot in the arm by the robbers before he could open fire. This sparked off a 10-minute fire exchange. Realising the danger ahead, the robbers then attempted to escape by going over the wall, since the gate was now locked. As three robbers climbed over the wall, the remaining three provided cover by shooting at the now charging police.
After the smoke had cleared, three of the robbers lay dead, including one Emmanuel Muyenzi, an employee of Interfreight Panalpina, James Okello, their driver, and Denis Nasasira, a boda boda cyclist. Okello and Muyenzi died on their way to Mulago hospital while Nasasira died on the spot. The other three had escaped by climbing over the wall.
Before his death, Okello mentioned Nelson Chemonges as an accomplice. It was later discovered that Chemonges went missing from his post at the end of last year. The police recovered a vehicle, motorcycle and a gun with 21 rounds of ammunition from the scene.
The gun was traced back to Kajjansi police station, where the police driver, Walunyonju, had signed for it. However, on interrogation, Walunyonju said he had returned the gun to the counter and someone else could have picked it thereafter, an explanation the police have dismissed.
The District Police Commander for Nsangi, Patrick Lule, said they have so far arrested four people, including Muwanguzi, the chief planner of the robbery, Walunyonju, Robinson Namara and Mubarak Ssemakula, who came to the scene immediately after the botched robbery.
Police are still hunting for the three escapees. However, one of them is said to have called the factory contact in the aftermath of the incident, expressing disappointment at his double-dealing.