Weak CCTV link exposed
In what may become a standard arc after a high profile shooting, Police releases CCTV footage to calm an angry public. The footage of fleeing assailants on motorbikes does little to calm nerves but simply creates a façade that police has leads on its investigation.
The release of the footage after the attempted assassination on Gen. Katumba Wamala had a boomerang effect; “Where is the footage of the November killings? The drone kidnappings?” Irate Ugandans responded after Uganda Police posted on Twitter the video footage of the suspected assailants, hours later after the morning incident on June 1.
Footage showed the suspected assailants on two motorbikes fleeing the crime scene but it leads to a dead end on their final destination in spite of the thousands of cameras police installed around several junctions in Kampala.
The Police Director of ICT, Commissioner of Police, Felix Baryamwisaki, declined to speak to The Independent when asked about the criteria Police follows before it releases footage. The footage released did not show the front faces of the suspects as one motorbike fled to Kisaasi and another to Bukoto from the Kisota-Kisaasi junction in spite of a CCTV camera overlooking the junction.
For the motorbike that fled to Kisaasi, footage would have captured them aptly if there was a CCTV camera on the Bahai Kisaasi junction assuming they did not veer off anywhere. However the camera is not on this junction but along the Bahai road exposing a major surveillance loophole.
The suspects who took the Bukoto route branched off at the Mukalazi Road junction and the cameras show them again as they head towards Kyebando before riding back to the main Bukoto road and into Oryx fuel station. From Oryx, the feed ends abruptly leaving detectives on the case hanging and the general public who tried to make something out of the footage in the same boat.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga could not be reached for comment but one of the officers under him, Luke Owoyesigyire, the deputy spokesperson of Kampala Metropolitan Police, says Enanga is the one who ordered for the release of the footage.
President Yoweri Museveni came up with the idea of installing CCTV cameras after the murder of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Felix Kaweesi in March 2017. A year later the installations started and according to the latest annual Police report released in April, 3233 cameras were fully installed marking a completion of Phase 1 of the installation of the CCTV cameras for the Kampala Metropolitan Area.
The report stated that Phase 2 was underway covering municipalities, highways, major towns and border points with 2319 cameras up. The police notes a number of cases that have been resolved and lists criminals who have been intercepted with the use of the cameras.
“CCTV was used as a policing tool during the election period and particularly on the November 18, 2020 when riots sprung up. Rioters were captured destroying property, vandalising Police CCTV cameras, burning tyres on roads and looting” the report reads.
The Police has received criticism for reveling in use of the cameras to police government opponents and protestors but falling short of using the same to establish a proper lead on the assailants of Gen. Katumba Wamala, a former IGP.
In a statement in July 2019, Enanga, the police spokesperson, said the public should note that the effect of CCTV cameras is enhanced when installed alongside other complementary measures, like police patrols, community vigilance, environmental designs, thus raising the credibility of cameras as a threat to offenders. There is a community police post at Kisota, a few hundred metres from where Katumba was shot at although the officers could not be at hand to intervene in the attempted assassination.
Enanga added in his statement that Police also plans to harness footage from private CCTV cameras and link them to police ones for a more effective monitoring system. There were reports that residents around Kisota, the crime scene, had refused to hand over footage from the surveillance cameras installed in their homes.