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Security officials deny aiding illegal traders to cross border

FILE PHOTO: Mpondwe border post

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Security officials in Kasese district have denied accusations of aiding illegal trade to operate across the Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC border in violation of the nationwide lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This stems from accusations spreading on social media implicating security officials led by the Resident District Commissioner- RDC Lt. Joe Walusimbi for aiding illegal trade across Mpondwe border post.

Uncorroborated reports also indicate that some traders are escorted by police and other armed personnel to Beni in DRC.

Last month, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni ordered the closure of all borders and the airports with the exception of cargo trucks to contain the spread of COVID-19.

However, Lt. Walusimbi says the allegations are baseless and aimed at tarnishing the image of security officials in the district. He says those being allowed to cross the border are licensed traders.

He also denies claims that security officers are escorting traders across the border, saying this violates the sovereignty of another state.

Maj. George Jet, the Commanding Officer in Charge of the 5th mountain Brigade in Rusese, says illegal traders use the porous borders to cross to either side of the border.

He, however says they have stepped up patrols along the border to eliminate illegal entrants.

The Bwera Division Police Commander, Sadat Sabila also dismisses claims that security officers are escorting businessmen across the border saying they don’t have any reports to that effect.

Spencer Birungi, an officer at the immigration office in Mpondwe, says only those being cleared are traders with valid licenses dealing in cargo.

DRC has 180 confirmed COVID19 cases and 16 registered deaths, giving the country a nine per cent death rate—one of the highest in Africa.

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