Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Police force has linked recent horrendous murders and kidnaps to 28 criminal gangs that have been operating across the country over the last two years. This is captured in reports by the directorates of research, planning and criminal investigations.
The data compiled by the former research director AIGP Edward Ochom, Police’s Chief Political Commissar Asan Kasingye and CID director Grace Akullo, shows that police, working alongside sister security agencies have burst hideouts of criminal syndicates in Kampala, Kanungu, Ibanda, Masaka, Mbale, Bukomansimbi, Lwengo, Busoga and Bundibugyo.
The Inspector-General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola recently acknowledged that dismantling of criminal gangs is one of the reasons why crime rates have reduced across the country. Police says the country has recorded a 28 percent crime reduction since 2016.
“Organised criminal syndicates committed heinous crimes within the regions of Kampala Metropolitan policing area, greater Masaka and Busoga areas. I am happy to report that in 2019, a total of ten criminal syndicates were dismantled, their members arrested and charged accordingly,” Ochola said.
CID director Grace Akullo says that 18 criminal gangs were dismantled in 2018 whereby members were arrested and charged. This according to police has been achieved through operations targeting criminal hideouts.
Top on the list of the criminal gangs dismantled in 2019 is the Kasolo Kopriano a.k.a Arsenal. The group is accused of orchestrating the kidnaps and murders recorded at Katwe police station on CRB 1422/2019. Kasolo’s gang is accused of among other crimes kidnapping and killing social worker Maria Nagirinya and her driver Ronnie Kitayimbwa from Lungujja in August last year.
CID cites the Kanungu kidnap gang which targets tourists in Queen Elizabeth National Park and people crossing Uganda-Rwanda and Uganda –DRC borders. This gang often kidnapped people in demand for ransom.
Police link the Kanungu gang to the kidnap of US tourist, Sue Endecott Kimberly and tourist guide Jean-Paul in April last year. This crime was recorded on CRB 214/2019 and its arrested members include Memory Derick alias Arinaitwe and Byamukama Alex alias Maimoto alias Dunia.
Police also listed the Old taxi park kidnap and murder syndicate whose members included Ssalongo Ddumba, a witchdoctor, Mugabi Kamada Shakur, Oloo John Bosco alias Okello Kifeesi and Lukwago Herbert Ssalongo.
The Old taxi park group disguised as taxi guides at Wandegeya-Bukoto stage, Old taxi park, Kampala Central division. This group according to CID, kidnapped women and female juveniles for purposes of procuring ransom, sexual assault and human sacrifice.
Some of the people who were kidnapped and killed by the Old Taxi park gang include Rehema Nabwanika whose case was registered at Old Kampala, Rose Nakiseka and Charity Kyohairwe who were kidnapped from Wandengeya-Bukoto stage. Kyohairwe’s body was recovered from Kabawo zone-Nalukolongo, Rubaga division in Kampala even after her parents paid a ransom of 2.5 million Shillings.
“Before these groups were dismantled and the weapons they were using recovered, they had committed 72 different crimes, shot and killed 17 people, shot and injured 10 people, robbed a total of 267 million Shillings, 65 mobile phones and three guns among other crimes,” Akullo states in her reports.
Other criminal gangs whose founders and members have been arrested in two years include Usafi mosque criminal syndicate which was comprised of the Ismailah Bukenya, Mahad Kisalita, Yakub Hausi Byensi, Yusuf Lubega, Hussein Wasswa, Muzamiru Ssali, Hajara Nakandi (The only female), Abubaker Kyewolwa, Hassan Kato Miiro, Abbas Musa Buvumbo, Abdul Hakim Lugolobi and Mahad Kasozi. They were hiding under an Islamic sect based at Usafi mosque, Usafi taxi park, Luzige zone, Mengo II parish, Rubaga division in the Kampala.
“The same were charged with belonging to a terrorist group when three members of the group namely Abdulrahman Faisal, Senono Abubakar and Kabasiita Fatuma were arrested by Mozambique security in an ISIS camp they busted,” Akullo indicates.
CID linked the Usafi market gang, participated in the kidnap and murder of businesswoman Susan Magara whose body was dumped at Kitiko Birongo Village along the Entebbe Expressway. CID linked the group to international terror gang Islamic State in Iraq –ISIS.