Uganda: How Boda Man Bet On Stealing Jinja Police Station TV

19 January 2020

On Wednesday last week, Robert Mawerere was fuming. He seethed like a percolator with faulty automatic switch whose water has boiled but can't stop. The boda boda cyclist on Nizam Road in Jinja Town foamed at the corners of his mouth and didn't look like he would be done with himself before Imam Mutumba married again.

Mawerere's problems started when his motorcycle was impounded the previous day. He lost revenue without work and spent the next day chasing after the bike. With the help of his colleagues, he finally managed to secure the release of his boda boda from Jinja Central Police Station.

As Mawerere and his two colleagues were clearing out at the reception of Jinja CPS, he joked he would "teach police a lesson" by stealing the TV mounted on the wall as a payback for losses he had incurred the previous day.

Of course, his two colleagues laughed it off. But as they walked out, he insisted it would be the easiest job ever, prompting the others to jokingly challenge him to it, Yahya Majidu, his colleague, told Empty Tin.

Mawerere confirmed the joke that led to the daring theft but denied being a thief.

"I was angry with those guys but I really didn't mean to steal the TV. I'm not a thief. I just decided to do it like a social experiment because my friends were daring me to," Mawerere told this column.

So what was the bet?

"I told my two colleagues to put half the value of the TV in cash as their bet and I would lose twice their stake because they were two. So we agreed on Shs480k, meaning I would pat with nearly a million shillings if I failed," he said, laughing.

Asked to divulge how he managed to pull it off, Mawerere first declined, saying his brain wouldn't just be picked for free. It was only after we convinced him that we would feature his 'heroics' on this column and make him more talked about than Imam Mutumba that he accepted.

"Bulaza (read brother), Ugandans don't pay attention to what matters. We are all like that Kayunga Imam. Ugandans only pay attention when there is a brown girl with fake hips and cleavage around. Even boda riders like us do that and I tell you, the Imam would have done the road test for his new ride if the fraud was brown and had fake hips," he claimed.

After nailing down the bet, Mawerere asked for just three days. He bought a workman's overall and dirtied it to look like it has seen a few days of job. He had a branding "Wongo Electronics" printed on the back. Then he bought a hammer, screw drivers and spanners.

"I then simply looked for a model. Just a random brown girl with tight-fitting clothes to make her chest look like this and the hips shouting 'touch me-touch me," Mawerere said, mimicking a strutting gait.

He paid the girl he identified as Jovia Shs100k. All she had to do was dress up as Mawerere recommended and move around with him.

"Most girls I contacted refused. Even prostitutes, they feared. So I lied to Jovia that I was going to CPS to repair the station TV and then from there we would go for a concert," Mawerere said.

At the reception, Mawerere greeted the officers like he knew them personally and introduced Jovia as his very good friend.

"Their attention was on Jovia who smiled thinking they were my friends. So I sold another lie to Jovia that she chats with my friends as I go up to see the boss and come back."

Upstairs, Mawerere lingered for a few minutes and then walked back down to the reception and proceeded to unscrew the TV mounting. It was a daring stunt. Everyone who saw him must have thought he was a repairman on normal servicing job and many officers were casting furtive glances at Jovia's revealing miniskirt than at Mawerere.

The Empty Tin caught up with Mawerere for this interview during the writer's moment of experiencing highest brain activity that involved his head and his fingers punching the laptop and making this story up. And yes, these things happen.

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