What police is doing wrong
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The woman’s body was lying in the bush near a popular boat docking site not far from a barracks. Her skirt was covered in blood. Parts of her hands and on leg were missing. Her husband was in the crowd that gathered to see the latest victim of a spate of killings. Francis Bahati had become concerned when his wife, a food vendor at the Kasenyi Landing site, had not returned home from the market the previous evening.
He came hoping she was not the one lying there. And he could not recognise at first. But just as he was about to move on, a yellow flower on the bloodied skirt struck him. This was his wife. He fell into shock and lost consciousness.
The dead woman was identified as Aisha Nakisinde, a mother of three little children. She was 25 years old and her ID photo showed a petite woman, unsmiling, and staring hard into the camera with a businesslike air of impatience. Nakisinde had been strangled and her private parts desecrated.
Up to that point, Aug.14, police was counting 16 women in three months in two towns of Wakiso district, Katabi and Nansana on the edge Lake Victoria. Five other women would be killed in almost the same fashion in the next two weeks, bringing the number to 21 by Sept.04. Unofficially, the death toll was higher.
Can police stop the murders?
David Pulkol, a former director of the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) said there is a puzzle that begs explanation.
“How can insecurity get to this level when there is security personnel paraded everywhere especially in Entebbe?”
“Something else is happening and this government is just not telling us. How can you have all these informal groups like the crime preventers and yet still have crime penetrate the communities to such obscene levels?”
Among Pulkol’s, there are many more questions that this situation has raised. Questions of what for sure the crime wave is about? Is it one gang committing crimes in totally opposite areas? How will these cases be resolved? Will police be able to stop them?
So far police appears to be concentrating on the victims phone contacts, swooping down on them all before screening and zeroing in on a few. This mode of operation has been criticism as a blatant to attempt to show that the police was doing something.
Top criminal lawyer, Caleb Alaka, says this is not the first time he is seeing police make such arrests. He says they do it whenever such an incident happens and stop at that when things cool down. He says the killings are happening at awkward times and enforcement authorities have no clue.
“This is worrying,” he told The Independent.
Alaka explained that if this is a case of a serial killer, then police should be looking at this as the handiwork of one person who can kill very many people and do it right under the nose of the security operatives.
Alaka says people should take individual responsibility for their security.
“People should avoid moving alone and without informing people about their whereabouts”. This, he says is a short term measure. What should work long term is mobile police that was once vibrant but has since died.
“But this could be work of the same gang in different areas and that this requires a tactical force to net them,” he said. Unfortunately, he said, the police do not have expertise to thoroughly investigate homicides.
But when The Independent spoke to Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Emilian Kayima, he said the force indeed has a plan and the required expertise.
When The Independent interviewed Kayima the number was 13 but has now swollen to 17. They had made a few arrests then, which he said they made through tracking the deceased phone records. The arrests continue but no credible clue has been seen.
He said their investigations showed that it was certainly one gang involved in the criminal related killings.
“The IGP has ordered us to rejuvenate the neighborhood watch where ten households should have a monitoring system of each other. With this, everyone in these ten households ought to know the whereabouts of the others and also have knowledge of what exactly they do for a living.”