13 February 2019

Uganda: Residents Murder, Grab Gun From Police Man in Suspected Land Row

Hoima — Police in Hoima District are investigating circumstances under which a police man was disarmed and killed.

The incident happened after residents of Kyabisagazi village, Kigorobya Sub County clashed with a team of police officials who had gone in the area to conduct a security operation on Tuesday night.

A police officer who was part of the operation said Police was responding to a tip-off that indicated that there were unidentified foreigners who had invaded the area.

The officer who declined to be named because he had not been cleared to talk to the press said locals and security officials feared that the unidentified people could be a security threat in the area.

"We went there to screen any suspicious individuals," the police officer said.

However, after arriving in the area, locals suspected the police men of trying to aid an investor to grab their land.

Locals reportedly mobilized and armed themselves with stones, arrows, sticks and bows before surrounding the police officials.

According to eye witnesses, the officials attempted to calm down the residents in vain.

In the fracas, residents reportedly disarmed one police man and killed him. Several other police officers fled in disarray after the incident.

Police has identified the deceased as Police constable Vincent Rutalemwa.

George Emoot, the commandant of the Police Field Force Unit, sustained injuries on his right leg and was rushed to Hoima Regional Referral Hospital for treatment.

"It appears I was shot with an arrow," he told the press.

He is being guarded by armed police personnel as he undergoes treatment.

The Albertine Regional Police spokesperson Mr Julius Hakiza has confirmed Rutalemwa's death and said investigations into the incident are underway.

"We have deployed in the area. We have recovered the gun and investigations are underway," he told the Daily Monitor on Wednesday morning.

He said perpetrators of the violence will be arrested and prosecuted.

According to witnesses, Police found the SMG riffle that was grabbed from the police officer abandoned in the bush.

The Hoima Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Mr Samuel Kisembo Araali said the operation was not linked to land.

"The operation is part of our roles to ensure stability as a matter of national security. Most of you know what it means to declare a state called Pele republic in Kigorobya within a legitimate state of Uganda," said Kisembo, who chairs the Hoima district security committee.

He said the operation was jointly conducted by the Uganda People's Defense Forces and Police.

Previous violence

In June 2017, residents of Runga landing site in Kigorobya Subcounty attacked and burnt Runga Police Post in protest after William Okello, a resident of the area died in a police cell.

The angry residents who were armed with spears, arrows and bows attacked the police post demanding to know the circumstances under which Okello died. Okello had been arrested on suspicion of stealing a battery at Runga landing site. Locals accused Police of torturing him to death.

After burning the police post, locals also burnt two houses of crime preventers that were adjacent to the police post.

In June 2017, another fight erupted between residents of Kigorobya Subcounty and an investor who was opening up boundaries on a contested piece of land.

Workers of Mr Abdul Malik Mugisa, a Hoima-based businessman were attacked by machete-wielding locals who were protesting his activities on the land that is adjacent to the oil sites in the Albertine graben. Locals accused the investor of encroaching on their land, a claim Mr Mugisa denies.

Five workers sustained injuries and were rushed to Hoima Regional Referral Hospital.

The locals allegedly burnt a grader which was opening up a road in the land and a police motorcycle registration number UP 6166 which had transported police personnel into the area, the Albertine regional Police spokesperson Mr Julius Hakiza said.

The locals allegedly smashed a Harrier registration number UAW 720S and a Tipper Lorry registration number UAW 843N.

A gun belonging to one of the investor's guards was allegedly snatched by an unidentified person.

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