At least 17 women have met a gruesome death in Wakiso District between the last week of May and yesterday - a period of less than three months. The pattern is the same - the women are waylaid in lonely places, they are raped, strangled and thereafter a stick is inserted into their private parts and mouths. The scenes of crime are within a radius of a few kilometres in the dense suburbs of Katabi near Entebbe and Nansana near Kampala.
Despite the similarity of the murders, the police refuse to classify them as the handiwork of a serial killer(s) operating alone or in a gang. Instead the police treat the murders as unrelated incidents orchestrated by criminals (of course!), and some of them as crimes of passion.
Clearly, there is a lot to worry about. The 17 women killed are not just a number; they are real people with family. Some of them mothers and two or three of them promising secondary school girls. Their deaths have left gaping holes in their families, a lot of pain, and many questions. Who is killing them and why?
The police have yet to get on top of the killings and so far a handful of people have been arrested. The killings, carried out in the same trademark style, continue to occur. One of the most recent ones was of Aisha Nakasinde, aged 25, of Katabi, who went missing last Sunday. Her body was discovered on Thursday bearing the same macabre imprint of the killer(s).
It is therefore important that the police quickly get on top of the situation and restore security in these areas to ensure everybody is safe. So far a curfew has been imposed in areas near Entebbe and a so-called "Mayumba Kumi" (10 homesteads) community policing structure set up so each family is the other's keeper! But this has not worked thus far, and will perhaps not work for this specific problem where a lone serial killer is striking at the most unexpected time, the most vulnerable victims and at times of his/her choosing.
It is certainly not an easy thing to unravel, but that is what the police are there to do - crack both the easy and the most difficult crimes. This is perhaps taking too long to crack because for years, the police have invested very little in crime intelligence, focusing a lot of its attention on politics or "crimes of conscience". In the end, this has given criminals such as the current serial killer(s) opportunity to get away with murder!
Police must at this time rise to the occasion and deliver on its mandate to keep every Ugandan safe.