31 May 2018

Ugandans Concerned With Kidnapping Spree

Photo: Dan Wandera/Daily Monitor
Residents try to view the body of a girl who is suspected of having been kidnapped in Bulinde village, Luweero District.

Uganda's police have recorded at least 42 cases of kidnappings in the last four months. Many Ugandans blame police and security forces for not doing enough to protect citizens, reports Frank Yiga.

Fred Kasagga looks weary and sad. He has just confirmed the death of his daughter -- it's in fact her dead body that's at the mortuary at Mulago hospital in Kampala.

Kasagga says the kidnappers had warned him they would kill her if he didn't raise the money they wanted. He says they demanded five million Ugandan shillings (€1,140; $1,330).

"We bargained and agreed to pay one million. After they again demanded 500,000 shillings more. When I told them I had failed to raise it, they said they have killed my child," he told DW.

But even paying the full ransom demanded by the kidnappers doesn't guarantee the kidnapped will be allowed to return home. After the family of Charity Kyohairwe sent the money, her brother Godwin Ahwera was told to pick up her body from the mortuary.

The kidnappers are using the victims' cell phones to call their relatives, which makes it difficult to identify them.

Ugandan Member of Parliament Paul Lutamaguzi says it's crucial to investigate. "Who are these perpetrators? Who facilitates them?"

In the past four months, at least 42 abduction cases have been recorded by police in Uganda. People are concerned and many are taking precautions.

Tightening security

Take for instance singer Lydia Jasmine who is performing at a music concert in Entebbe town in Central Uganda. She has drastically tightened her security.

"If I have a performance out there I never move alone and I never move minus backup," she told DW. "I mean it's crazy! Every single day you wake up to this sad news -- people are being kidnapped and these guys are killing people."

The fear is also felt in the town of Jinja, a four hours drive from Entebbe.

"I am really worried and scared," Martha, a girl from Jinja said. "Before I leave home I tell mum and a few friends have to know, where is Martha?"

"I am taking precaution which friends am I hanging out with, which places, what time, first of all, it is about me being safe," Arnold said.

"I make sure by 8 p.m. I am in my room sleeping and I do not answer any call I don't know", Natasha Arinda said.

Ugandans have to be 'vigilant'

Civil rights activist Sarah Eperu says it's up to the government to protect its citizens at all costs.

"Many of us parents are not sleeping, because each time a kid is not around home, you call 'Where are you?' She added that staying home would not be a solution since "some people have been kidnapped and killed from their homes."

Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima said they had made progress in finding the perpetrators. "We have credible suspects that we have arrested," she told DW.

Still, Ugandans should be "vigilant" she added, "because crimes keep happening and taking different shapes, so the more vigilant we are as a community as individuals the better we are at averting crime."

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