Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | At least 80 more armed rustlers have been arrested over the last 10-days of the disarmament exercise conducted by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces–UPDF and the Anti-Stock Theft Unit –ASTU of the police force in Karamoja sub-region.
The joint security teams embarked on a twofold disarmament exercise on July 14 after rampant cases of cattle theft and killings in the districts of Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Karenga and Kaabong. According to the Defence deputy spokesperson Lt Col Ronald Kakurungu, the arrests in Karamoja over the last one month have increased the total number of suspects to 350 people.
Kakurungu said many of the suspects have already appeared before the Division Court Martial while others are waiting to be arraigned before the court to stand trial. He added that they have also recovered 57 guns, but a forensic examination has revealed that most of them were brought in by pastoralists from Kenya and South Sudan and only two of these had been stolen by escapees from Moroto government prison in September last year.
Uganda has a bilateral agreement for the pastoralists from Kenya and Sudan to come and graze from Karamoja especially when their areas are facing dry seasons. But some of them, according to UPDF, have been defying the agreement and coming in with guns.
“We have recovered 57 guns and bullets 350. We have also been able to arrest 332 illegal armed warriors. They are undergoing trial in division Court Martial. It is a twofold disbarment exercise. We have forceful and voluntary exercise. We encourage people to hand in their weapons and they will be pardoned,” Kakurungu said.
Security forces have engaged leaders from Karamoja region purposely to help in convincing their people to hand in their guns. The forces have been giving certificates to people who voluntarily give in their weapons and they will be helped to benefit from government livelihood improvement programs.
Relatedly, Crime Intelligence has also intensified operations against suspected cattle thieves in cattle corridor districts among others Kiboga, Kyankwanzi and Luweero. So far seven suspects arrested in the cattle corridor suspects have been identified by Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, as Sewaya Henry, Lumbye Issa alias Nick, Sharif Mawanda alias Ssalongo, Muwonge Ashraf alias Kifampa, Mayanja Mubarak, Semata Swaibu and Kasiba Fazil.
Enanga said the suspects are residents of Kampala, Nansana and Kyebando who have been liaising with criminals in the areas they have been terrorizing. CI built intelligence with locals and arrested the first suspect Sewaya Henry who later revealed his alleged accomplices.
“They had stolen cattle from the farms of Ntamwete Charles and Mwesigye Livingstone. They would slaughter the animals and sell the meat to restaurants at relatively low prices. We urge people to stop buying meat on the black market. It finds its way to the markets and this is very dangerous since its health condition is not known,” Enanga said.