2017 Year Full of Violence Top story

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In short
In Kampala, the Inspector General of Police also paraded 64 suspects at Katwe Police Station in connection to the attacks on residents. Shockingly, one of the suspects, who had been paraded before the media to confess to the crimes, said they were working with some police officers.

At the end of 2016, the then Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, Emilian Kayima, said it was the most peaceful transition from one year to another since no major incidents of crime had been recorded during the New Year festivities. Little did he know that the peace would last for a short time as unidentified people would take out his boss, Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP), Andrew Felix Kaweesi.

 
Unidentified gunmen riding on motorcycles gunned down Kaweesi, his bodyguard Kenneth Erau and driver, Godfrey Mambewo on March 17th, 2017, 500 meters from his home in Kulambiro Kisaasi in Nakawa Division in Kampala. The killing of the trio shocked the entire security network pushing police on a rampage to pick up whoever was suspected to have a hand in the gruesome attack. 


More than 40 suspects mostly believed to be collaborators of the rebel Allied Democratic Front, were picked up and locked up in Nalufenya police facility. Some of the suspects were exposed to extreme torture allegedly to force them to confess of their involvement in the attack. Key of those arrested was the Kamwenge Mayor, Geoffrey Byamukama who was tortured before being locked up in Nalufenya police facility. 


Police kept denying his arrest, until pictures of him rotting in Nakasero hospital went viral on social media drawing outrage from the public.  He had deep wounds on his knees and ankles that had become septic. Byamukama was accused of recruiting and facilitating Kaweesi's assailants. He was released unconditionally after spending three months in police custody.  Those behind his torture were also suspended from the force and dragged to court to answer for torture.                                                                                             


 
Police's torture woes didn't end with Byamukama's release.  22 other suspects arrested in relation to the assassination of Kaweesi also ran to the High court civil division seeking compensation from government for the torture they underwent while in custody. Despite the fact that police still denies torturing the suspects, Justice Margret Oguli-Oumo, delivered her judgment in October, 2017, saying the suspects had proved beyond reasonable doubt that they were tortured in both military and police custody upon arrest.

 
She awarded each of the 22 suspects Shillings 80 million in compensation at an interest rate of 22 percent per annum until the full amount is paid. While police was still hunting for Kaweesi's killers, unidentified criminal gangs started dropping anonymous letters in Masaka, Lwengo, Mbarara, Wakiso, Luweero, Mukono and Mpigi districts threatening to raid resident's home.
 
In Greater Masaka, the thugs asked residents to prepare enough cash and gadgets for them. They asked impoverished residents to leave at least Shillings 20,000 at their doorsteps while the wealthy ones were asked to keep more money with them, which they must handover once the thugs strike. According to police records, at least 20 people were attacked and hacked by the thugs between January and April when the anonymous letters were dropped.

 
On March 28, President Yoweri Museveni grilled Latif Zaake, the Greater Masaka Regional Police Commander over police failure to resolve insecurity in the region. He ordered police to deploy in the affected areas and arrest the masterminds of the insecurity. As a result, the Inspector General of Police, Edward Kale Kayihura deployed the Flying Squad to boost the army and police to hunt for the thugs. Following the operations, police picked up more than 100 suspects from Masaka and its surroundings and dragged them to court. 


In Kampala, the Inspector General of Police also paraded 64 suspects at Katwe Police Station in connection to the attacks on residents. Shockingly, one of the suspects, who had been paraded before the media to confess to the crimes, said they were working with some police officers. He claimed that police patrol always provides them protection during their planning meetings. Despite the confession made by the suspects about their involvement in crime, they were released unconditionally without any charge.


 
In April, 2017, about 14 gunmen attacked Ngenge police post in Kween district killing one police officer and making off with his gun. Four attackers were also killed in the gunfire exchange with the police backed by the army, which lasted for about 30 minutes as the thugs tried to carry the body of their colleague.  As the country was still coming to terms with the activities of the criminal gangs unidentified people started killing middle aged women in Nansana Municipality and Katabi town council in Wakiso district around July 2017. 


The assailants would gang rape their victims and insert sticks in their private parts before strangling them to death and dump their bodies. At least 23 women, believed to be commercial sex workers, met their death in a similar manner. The killings drew condemnation and angry protests from several quarters directed at police for failing to contain the situation. On August 29th, Joshua Kitakule, the Secretary General of  the Inter Religious Council of Uganda-IRCU convened a press conference at Oxford Hotel in Mbarara and called for through investigations into the Entebbe killings.

 
It was not until 20 women were killed that police hit the ground running to try and find the killers. The Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura pitched camp in Nansana and Entebbe to stop the killings, which were happening almost on a weekly basis. Kayihura tasked the elite Police Flying Squad to investigate the killings and bring the assailants to justice. Flying squad picked up whoever had any connections to the deceased women. Police finally picked up two suspects believed to be the masterminds of the killing. 

 
DNA samples from eight victims recovered from the crime scene in Nansana submitted to the Government Analytical Laboratories matched the DNA of Ibrahim Kaweesa, a boda boda cyclist while five others picked from Katabi matched the DNA of William Ssenoga. By this time, things were falling apart in the police force as the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence were investigating senior police officers on the orders of President, Yoweri Museveni.

 
The investigations stemmed from a hand written petition to the president, Museveni by Ali Kabanda, a former police constable implicating senior police officers for their alleged involvement in criminal activities. In October, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence picked up the then commandant of the Professional Standards Unit, Joel Aguma and the former head of the Special Operations Unit, Nixon Agasirwe.

 
They were picked up together with seven others including Abel Tumukunde and Faisal Katende, both from the Flying Squad, James Magada from Crime Intelligence, Amon Kwarisima, Rene Rutagungira and Bahati Mugenga Rwandan and Congolese nationals respectively. They were accused of espionage, kidnapping and illegal repatriating foreign nationals.
 
They are particularly accused of kidnapping Lt. Joel Mutabazi, the former bodyguard of Rwanda President, Paul Kagame and Jackson Kalemera from Kammengo in Mpigi district in October 2013 and repatriating them illegally to Rwanda. Mutabaazi was arraigned in the Military High Court in Rwanda and charged with terrorism, setting up an armed group, spreading rumors with the intention of inciting the public to rise against the state, murder, crimes against the state, illegal possession of a firearm and desertion.


 
He was later sentenced to life in prison and stripped off his military ranks by the Military High Court in Rwanda. Agasirwe was recently slapped with a second charge of kidnapping and repatriating a Rwandan national, Vincent Kaliisa from Luweero district. The suspects have since pleaded not guilty to the charges. The state has also blocked their attempts to get bail, saying they may influence the investigations.

 
 
In September 2017, five thugs raided Mponye police post in Makindye division in Kampala and hacked a police officer on duty and made off with gun. Still in September, two police officers attached to Katwe Police Station were killed in Kalerwe while escorting a bread distribution van. In October, the sour relationship between Police and the Internal Security Organisation-ISO also came to the fore as the two sister agencies clashed over  Christine Mbabazi Muhoza,  a woman believed to have been a close friend to the late police spokesperson, Andrew Felix Kaweesi.

 
It came after the Police Flying Squad led by its commandant, Herbert Muhangi rushed to Mbabazi's home in Lungujja allegedly to rescue her where she was under house arrest by ISO. A heated exchange broke when the ISO operatives denied police access to Mbabazi. It took the intervention of the elite Special Forces Command (SFC), which took over Mbabazi's security to calm down the situation. 



On December 21st, unidentified thugs killed Vicent Byaruhanga, a police constable attached to Mbarara Central Police Station who was returning from guard duty at the home of Mbarara High Resident Judge, Duncan Gaswaga and made off with his gun. The attacks have since forced the Inspector General of Police to direct that all officers are picked and dropped by vehicle or motorcycle to and from their work station. He has also ordered the arrest of any armed police officer found walking alone.

 

About the author

Dear Jeanne
Dear Jeanne is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Jeanne has been a URN staff member since 2014.

Jeanne started out as a political and crime reporter for NBS television in 2010. She went on to become a news director at the station before leaving in 2012 to join The Daily Monitor as an investigative reporter in 2012.

Jeanne is ambitious to improve her investigative reporting skills. Jeanne’s focus for much of her five year career has been to report on crime and security.