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Tour operator arrested for cheating tourists

Richard Tusasibwe (in T-shirt) in handcuffs

Kigezi, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  The Chief Executive Director of Gatatu Safaris Limited, Richard Tusasibwe has been arrested for allegedly obtaining money by false pretence from tourists. 

Tusasiibwe who runs the tour company based in Kigezi sub region was arrested on Monday at around 10:00AM by heavily armed tourist police officers led by Tourism Police Commander-in-charge of Kigezi Region, Emmanuel Tinka.

He was detained at Kabale police station before being paraded before the Kigezi region police detectives later in the afternoon for about three hours. According to Police, Tusasibwe is alleged to have signed a contract worth 2150 US dollars equivalent to about shillings 7.9 million with a tourist identified as Dr. Lentschig Markus Gunter, a German national to facilitate a tour with his four family members in Uganda.  

Tusasibwe received the whole amount after signing the contract with Gunter. The contract also required Tusasibwe to pick the tourists from Entebbe International Airport and drive them to Kisoro town as well as booking them accommodation, trekking permits, Park fees, Gorilla and chimpanzee tracking permit, game and boat drive fees, rhino sanctuaries and taxes among others. Marcus paid a deposit of USD2000 (shillings 7.4million) to Tusasibwe to help him on bookings and cleared the balance on July 25, 2019 when he arrived in Uganda. 

However, when the tourists reached Kisoro town, Tusasibwe reportedly abandoned them at Chameleon Hill Hotel, switched off his phones and disappeared. The tourists were shocked to find that Tusasibwe did not book for them accommodation, despite having received full payment. It is when they reported the matter to police for help that Tusasibwe was tracked.

Elly Maate, police spokesperson for Kigezi region says that Tusasibwe had been on the run until Monday when he was arrested while hiding in Lake Bunyonyi. Maate says that the suspect will face the law after investigations into the matter are complete. 

The case is registered at Kabale Police station under file number CRB 1180/2019. 

On July 31, 2019, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during a press conference on operation wealth creation held at State Lodge Makanga in Kabale district ordered for the the arrest of tour operators who cheat tourists and described them as enemies of the country. 

Tusasibwe had earlier told our reporter refuting all the allegations saying that they had agreed that he is paid shillings 7.3 million but was paid only shillings 5.5 million after the tourists said that they would book the accommodation themselves. Tusasibwe also denied abandoning the tourists, but says he separated with them after failing to agree on contract terms and conditions.

In February, Didan Atukunda a resident of Kabale district and a tour operator from Mamba Gorilla Safari was arrested after he failed to refund 99 million shillings that was mistakenly sent to his account by a Dutch tourist for a gorilla trekking trip. Peter Nickilin from the Netherlands paid 110 million shillings instead of 11 million shillings for a trip to trek Gorillas in October 2017. 

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