Uganda: Suspected Goat Thief Dies in UPDF Custody

3 December 2019

A suspected goat thief has died in the UPDF army detach at Habitat cell in Kamaiba Ward in Kasese Municipality.

The deceased is 30-year-old Edson Nzabalha, a resident of Temangalo Cell in Central Division in Kasese Municipality.

Ms Margret Biira Mafuta, the area LC III councillor, said on Tuesday that Nzabalha was picked up on Sunday on suspicion that he had stolen two goats.

She said that on Monday residents saw soldiers behaving in a suspicious manner, in an attempt to quietly transport Nzabalha's body back to his home.

Ms Mafuta said that the area LC I chairperson went to the army detach and confirmed Nzabalha's demise.

"I have learnt that Nzabalha had been arrested the previous day on the recommendations of the LC I chairperson, Hamada Njima, after he was reportedly found in possession of two goats. I'm wondering why he had to call the army to arrest the suspect instead of the police," she said.

Mr Njima declined to comment on the matter.

Captain Masumbuko Ssonko, the UPDF spokesperson in Rwenzori claimed that Nzabalha committed suicide in the holding cells by using his trouser to hang himself.

"The suspect was arrested by police in a joint operation with the UPDF and with the help of the area LC1 chairman. So when he was put in a military detention and he knew he was guilty, he decided to commit suicide perhaps on suspicion that we would harm him, which of course we couldn't do, because we would just hand him to police the following day," he said.

Asked why the deceased was detained at the army facility, Capt Ssonko said police and the army normally work together and in some cases agree that the UPDF temporarily holds suspects especially during the night awaiting transfer to police the following the day.

But according to Ms Mafuta, the deceased was arrested at around 3PM on Sunday. Rwenzori East Regional Police is yet to make a statement on the matter.

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