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Tuesday, August 1, 2017


In the last three months or so 11 women have died gruesome deaths at the hands of, what seems to be, a criminal gang in the Kampala-Wakiso area.

The latest on Monday this week was Rosette Nakimuli, a salon operator who was waylaid in the dead of the night, raped and murdered, her body dumped in a banana plantation in Kitala zone, Katabi town council.

"The fact that the criminals are seemingly going about their business unmolested points to a failure of security, beyond the narrow confines of the police force’s mandate...

In terms of fighting crime the police serve three broad purposes – they act as a deterrent, their presence dissuading any criminal activity. Secondly they are meant to foil crimes as they are being committed, which would be a function of their intelligence gathering capabilities and finally once a crime is committed they should be able to catch the perpetrators, a function of their ability to investigate crime.

It would be safe to say that where there is a police presence they serve as enough of deterrent to criminal activity. Witness how very little thuggery happens in broad daylight. This could also be a function of the fact that the Ugandan public tends to mete out swift and brutal justice if criminals are caught in the act. I suspect it’s more because of the latter than the former.

Criminal activity increases during the night for the obvious reason that the cover of darkness is convenient for the perpetrators.

Beyond that is the fact that once a criminal gets away with the act it is more likely than not that they will not be apprehended.

We never cease to hear stories of how the police are undermanned, underfunded and under resourced and a sequencing of how to distribute the merger resources to bridge these deficits gives headache to its top brass. But evidently there needs to be greater investment in intelligence and investigation.

"As it is now when a major crime is committed and the police are in danger of being embarrassed they swoop on the affected area and detain dozens of people to help them with investigations. Talk about using a sledge hammer to kill a fly. This hit-or-miss style suggests a failure in intelligence and investigation with the police trying to eke, or beat out, out confessions than use available evidence to pin the crooks...

Such action arguably causes disgruntlement with the police and establishment, which would make police work more difficult in future.

But beyond the police, such frequent and clearly not random acts of violence points to a failure of community policing. The breakdown of the LC system could be blamed for this, as local authorities used to provide some leadership in keeping neighbourhoods safe.

Reports indicate that residents of the affected areas have reported the presence of some unknown men in the areas around the time of the perpetration of these crimes but their seems to be a slow response to the reports or, even worse, no follow through after the crimes have been committed. And this goes for other crimes as well.

In the absence of civilian organisation, the responsibility to mobilise local populations for popular vigilance would still fall to the police.

In some areas around the Kampala the use of social media among residents, led by the respective police posts in their areas, even with the slow response times of the police, has proved useful. It does not cost much to mobilise people for their own security what is clearly lacking is the leadership.

While we have individual responsibility for our own security, the building of the police’s capacity to stop crime from happening or apprehending the perpetrators when it has happened needs to be looked into urgently.

"As an aside a revisiting of the issue of payment of graduated tax too needs to be looked into. As it is now we have a lot of youth hanging around doing nothing except honing their Ludo skills in our trading centres...

One wonders how they make a living in the day?

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