Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A number of schools in Mbale town are witnessing an increase in gangs, comprising students, known for using drugs, encouraging bullying and violence in schools and increasing urban crime.
A survey undertaken by Human Rights Activists Elgon Sub Region- HURA, a nonprofit Organisation operating in the area says the gangs have assumed code names and zoned school campuses and neighboring communities as their areas of operation.
The codes include Team no Sleep, Big food, Team no Stress, The Virgin Breakers, unstoppable, Virgin Hunters, Protocol the Cross, Street Kids, Gun Talk and Stamina Damage, among others. A number of these operate from within Mbale S.S., Mbale High School and Nkoma Secondary School and often station on streets to snatch bags, phones and any other precious valuables from members of the public.
According to the survey, the students, a number of them in senior two and three, carry sharp pocket knives and put on rings with sharp edges. They can also be identified by their hairstyles. Some of them carry multiple Identity cards which help them access all schools, at any given time.
Wasike Mathew, the LCII chairperson of Namakwekwe ward in Northern Division says the gangs seem to have an organized leadership.
Sadly, the survey adds, the teachers in the said schools have befriended the gang members for fear of the wrath which may be unleashed on them, an act which tantamounts to endorsing their activities.
Lawrence Mucunguzi, a Senior Law Enforcement Officer with Mbale Municipal Council says that at least 60 per cent of suspected criminals arrested in security operation are students of Nkoma SS and Mbale High School. Mucunguzi blames this on the unmanageable student populations in the schools.
James Peter Nangayi, a teacher at Nkoma SS acknowledges the existence of gangs in the school but hastens to add that the administration is trying to eliminate them through sensitization meetings with the Gang leaders.
John Robert Tukei, the Elgon Region Police Spokesperson said that police will investigate reports that the groups are also working with a number of police officers to elude prosecution.
Rev Alpakusad Namonyo, a priest from St Andrew’s Church of Uganda, Mbale observed a need to engage religious and cultural institutions in nurturing children, fighting crime and creating of reformatory schools in the country.