COMMENT | Samson Tinka | In 2017 and 2018 as well as in the recent past, the machete (bijambiya) threat and killings put Uganda security teams on tenterhooks. The abduction and killing of women sometime back also threw the country into fear.
A number of people died, others were assaulted and fear spread within the country.
The women kidnaps and killings were handled firmly by the security agencies and the recent bijambiya threat seems to have been taken care of too. But the question has been what’s the role of the common person (wanaichi) in resolving the threats?
In many instances if not all, whenever there are such attacks, the blame is quickly pointed at the government and the security agencies. Questions like how can they fail at both intelligence and stopping these attacks.
Whereas it is the security agencies’ mandate constitutionally and by practice to secure Uganda’s borders, its people and property, lets appreciate the complimentary role that me and you owe the government or communities that we live, to ensure that there is total peace and security.
As good citizens, we are mandated to create, live and sustain a secure living environment.
This is very possible through the following ways:
By default, Ugandans live in closer communities and homesteads. Whether in urban areas or deep down in villages, most of the homes are near each other apart from a few areas of Ankole, Kiboga, Nakaseke and Nakasongola areas.
A neighborhood watch helps us to be a keeper of our immediate neighbor. In most cases if not all, people who commit crimes come from within the vicinity. Its rare for a criminal to travel long distances to commit a crime. If we watch our neighbors house, farm, garden, shop, we are likely to reduce crime by 70%. Neighborhood watching doesn’t require any resource in terms of money.
Share security systems
Closer homesteads or rental houses or apartments can share electronic security systems like intruder alarms, CCTV systems. One 12 channel CCTV system can be shared by four shops or more. The challenge with our society is me and myself. Some situations demand that we cooperate to minimize costs and enjoy the wider benefits. Twelve shops in an arcade can buy one 12 channel full HD CCTV system at 2million. These systems are just one off. No need of monthly service fees, service and maintenance is almost zero but the return on investment is huge.
This is the most neglected but very critical aspect of security in the community. Reporting to either LC leaders, nearest police station or any other official is important. Reporting helps in many ways, including, getting a second opinion of what you reporting, collaborating earlier information on an incident, attracting leaders to intervene. Reporting can be made by a phone call, sms, verbaly, or sending a written report to the intended office. In Uganda, there is no village without an LC chairman with a committee. Police posts are within reach. Let’s report any suspicious person or movements in our areas. If you have any suspicion about anything, report.
Physical security guars and dogs
Especially for the homesteads, factories, farms, warehouses and other commercial entities hire services of either armed guards or even just night watch men. Canine-K9 (Dog) services are very helpful. Night watchmen aid in the following ways,
- He observes the occurrences within the facility he is securing including intrusion attempts, power fluctuations, flooding, and takes record of these incidents.
- He escalates these incidents if they are severe for quick response and this in turn saves what would be huge loses.
- Having a person on guard at a facility gives the owner peace of mind.
- It reduces on insecurity incidents.
Minus the reporting function, the dog can do the rest. Remember the dog can detect an intruder 200 meters away. Many companies in the city provide armed guards and dog services.
Form whatsapp groups
Having village or esate whatsapp group fosters security. These communal WhatsApp groups facilitate information sharing. In most of these groups, local leaders and the nearby police personnel are included. I have witnessed the wonders on these whatsapp groups. You don’t need any money to belong to a communal WhatsApp group. WhatsApp group aids in information sharing, facilitates quick interventions and identification of bad guys in the village becomes easy hence security is maintained.
From the above examples, you realise that the notion of security forces of being solely responsible for our security is outdated, reckless and impossible.
Me and you have a noble duty of supporting security forces specifically police in creating, maintaining and sustaining a safe and secure surrounding. The interventions mentioned above are easy to implement.
Own a dog, an askari, belong to any whatsap or facebook group. Work closely with the local leaders, have some airtime on your phone, memorize your local police numbers, have a whistle in your house, ensure that there is enough lighting in your compound, report suspicious characters in your community, where finances allow, install security systems in your house, business, secure valuables in a controlled area. Insure your car, check if you have locked your house doors and windows every night.
Security is not cheap. Individually invest in it. If you think security is expensive try insecurity and share feedback.
Jane Addams says,”The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.”
Finally, I am convinced that me and you have a role to play to support national security agencies and local leadership in fighting crime. Bijambiya should never be heard again. Thefts and murders should be a history. It’s very possible. Be a responsible citizen.
Samson Tinka is a safety and security consultant | Director Matts Secure Solutions Ltd | tindsam@yahoo