Moroto, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The escape of 219 prisoners from Moroto prison has triggered panic in the community and within the leadership in the district.
Official records indicate that the prisoners fled with 15 guns and 400 rounds of ammunition and none has been recovered. This adds into the outstanding cases of illegal guns still in the hands of the community of Karamoja. Much as government launched a disarmament exercise in 2003, there are still cases of illegal guns in the hands of the local community.
A section of the community now lives in fear after the prison break especially that the firearms are in the wrong hands. Dinah Ayo, a resident in Moroto town says the loose firearms could be used by the escapees to perpetuate more crime not only in Moroto but anywhere in the country.
Catherine Alanyo, another resident in Moroto town says that the escape of inmates is a security threat in the region. She also notes that the raid on the armory was unfortunate and showed laxity by the security organs in detecting and prevention of crime.
According to sources from police who did not want to be disclosed, 23 of the inmates who broke loose are soldiers and hardcore criminals facing the 3rd Division Court Martial in Moroto.
Besides the security, the community is also worried of the possible spread of COVID-19 by some of these escapees incase they were affected.
The Uganda Prisons spokesman Frank Baine indicates that 30 inmates and four officers tested positive to the virus some time back and this prompted prisons authorities to take samples of all the inmates and staff for testing in Entebbe. By the time of their escape, results of testing had not yet returned but all the inmates were under quarantine.
Hellen Pulkol, the RDC of Moroto warns residents against hosting escapees whom she notes could be COVID-19 positive.
The Uganda Prison Service team from Kampala, police and the army are on the ground to establish facts regarding the escape of prisoners from cells.