Gun crime, fraud dominate 2014

Gun-related violence shook every corner of the country this year, with criminal elements increasingly becoming armed. While the number of guns in the hands of private individuals remains unclear, the bang of the gun took many lives and facilitated robbery in 2014.

As the dust settled on the Kasese attacks in which about 90 citizens lost their lives, Kampala quivered with the mysterious death of renown businessman Eria Sebunnya Bugembe, popularly known as Kasiwukira. There were scary cannibalism killings in Rakai District as there was a worrying trend of burglary, robberies and targeted attacks on businessmen.

In all these, the unanswered questions remain “why” and “who”. As the nation waits for these answers, the threat of terrorism hovers and resurgence of rebellion in parts of the country beckons.

Rakai killings
In 2013, residents of Kyebe Sub-county in Rakai District had their share of a rough time with crime. Pastor Stephen Mugambe and eight other people were killed inside his house. The killers sliced the victims’ throats and spared only two children. That story was such a scar on the country’s crime scene that in January 2014, while the rest of the country ushered in the New Year, Rakai residents demanded a report from police on the cold blood murder trends in the district. That report did not come through but that trend of criminal activity sneaked its head into 2014 in even worse proportions.

Bwebajja attack
Mid this year, a group of attackers raided Bwebajja in Wakiso District, killing one person and leaving others with life-threatening injuries. At around 9pm, a group of about six men, a woman and a teenage boy armed with sticks, machetes and pangas held more than 12 households hostage in what appeared a well-planned attack. Residents claimed, then, that police only intervened several hours after the mayhem that had raged on untill the wee hours of the morning.

The thugs, whom police are yet to apprehend, hit residents’ doors with heavy stones and demanded money while taking away every valuable in the house and beating them to pulp. In Kajjansi, a stone-throw away from Bwebajja, Joseph Bigirwa, the officer in charge of Kajjansi Police Station, had only been gunned down by armed robbers weeks earlier.

Gulu, Kitgum attacks
That attack on Bwebajja came only two months after parts of Arua and the greater West Nile experienced a series of crime, which forced the Inspector General of Police to pitch camp in the area. Gulu and Kitgum too had criminal gang activity with armed criminals reported to have been terrorising the town residents, especially boda boda cyclists. Then, at least four boda boda riders had been shot dead and 11 motorcycles seized in Gulu Town in one month.

A lecturer at Gulu University, Andrew Rachkara, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the heart of Gulu Town and two businessmen also shot dead in Kitgum Town. In a statement to Parliament at the time, Kilak County MP Gilbert Olanya told the country that unknown gangsters had killed at least 15 people and hijacked more than 150 boda boda motorcycles.

Kasese killings
The anarchy that befell Kasese District in south western Uganda dropped like a bomb shell when more than 90 people were killed in what security agencies referred to as tribal clashes. Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura described the unfortunate incident as a massacre, akin to the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which thousands lost their lives to a Hutu-Tutsi contest that lasted 100 days. Government recently said it had dropped interest in the trial of at least 50 suspected master minds of the killings, several others were given amnesty at the heat of the moment.

Mubende barracks attack
Around the same time, on June 19, the country awoke to screaming headlines of an attack in Mubende District in which armed men attacked residences of Mubende police commanders, including the district police commander, Mr Enock Abaine and officer-in-charge of operations, Mr Dan Ampadde. The police, after the IGP paying a fact-finding visit to the area, claimed it had crucial leads on the suspects. None had, however, been paraded in court by the time of filing this story.

Kasiwukira killing
City businessman Eria Sebunnya Bugembe’s murder in cold blood shook the country. The tycoon, popularly known as Kasiwukira was knocked dead while jogging outside his Muyenga palatial home in what police ruled out as a hit and run accident. Kampala’s moneyed business persons’ club Kwagalana Group, put a bounty of Shs15m to whoever led police to their peer’s killers. Indeed, before the year ended, police investigations had netted his wife, sister-in-law and a police officer now facing murder charges.

Charles Lwanga killing
As Police officers started to dust their files after a marathon hunt for Kasiwukira’s killers, a month later, an unknown assailant shot a city businessman in Kulambiro in Kisaasi, a Kampala suburb dead. Charles Lwanga succumbed to bullet wounds on arrival to Mulago National Referral Hospital. A cartridge of a pistol was found in the co-driver’s seat of the deceased’s car. The two businessmen’s killings raised eye brows within Kampala’s business community with accusatory fingers being pointed at business rivalry, family intrigue and deals gone sour.

Teso killings
Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso on November 11 raised concern in Parliament over the “extra judicial murders in Teso sub-region” and continued persecution of human rights defenders. Among the incident Ms Alaso tabled in Parliament was the murder of Dr Samuel Emunyeret and his sister and the injuring of his children in April this year. In September, this newspaper carried a story of Gorreti Atai who, with her siblings, were living in hiding following the killing of their parents and continued threats to their lives. They continue to be in hiding as attacks in the region rage on.

Fraud still a problem
White collar crime is still a challenge to our policing if not on the rise. This was a particularly hard year for the banking industry as fraudsters had a field day sitting in the comfort of their computers and fleecing them of their customers’ monies. In November for instance, Stanbic Bank suspended four employees in connection with a sophisticated fraud scheme in which the bank was fleeced of $317,000 (about Shs800m) that was drawn by eight people in just four days at its Kakira branch in Jinja District.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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