Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda People’s Defence Forces – UPDF has said it has no plans of withdrawing Local Defence Units – LDUs attached to various police stations in Kampala and other places upcountry.
Maj. Bilal Katamba, the UPDF first division spokesperson said LDUs attached to police stations are there as an emergency force and cannot be removed. Earlier reports indicated that UPDF had started removing LDUs from police stations.
“We have not. Why? LDUs are a quick reaction force at police stations. It is like a standby force to react to emergencies like robberies and we cannot remove them,” explained Maj. Katamba.
There more than 6,000 LDUs in Kampala metropolitan area that covers Kampala city, Wakiso and Mukono districts. At least 2,500 LDUs are attached to various police stations under the 18 policing divisions in Kampala metropolitan.
Apart from LDUs deployed at police stations, close to 4,000 are in battalions in Nansana, Seeta, Mukono, Katwe, Kansanga, Kawempe, Kira and Ndeeba. UPDF set up the battalions at district and sub-county headquarters.
Security sources had intimated that UPDF had resolved to remove at least 4,000 LDUs deployed in Kampala metropolitan and only leave 2,000 to work with police particularly during night patrols.
“We have been complaining about LDUs’ misconduct. They are too aggressive and we have no say about them because they are under the command of UPDF,” a police source revealed.
All LDUs are commanded by UPDF soldiers ranging from the ranks of Captain to Corporal. Detaches at police stations are majorly commanded by Corporals and Sergeants while battalions are commanded by Lieutenants and Captains.
On Tuesday this week, police conducted operations without involving LDUs. In most of the previous operations, police would work alongside LDUs to query protests organised by traders, taxi drivers and boda-boda riders protesting against the ban on their operations in a bid to control the spread of COVID-19.
Police commanders and their juniors were pelted with stones on Tuesday while forcing traders to close shops since the ban on arcades had not been lifted. Police fired teargas and live bullets to query protests where the windscreen of a police patrol vehicle was smashed with a heavy stone.
In regard to not working with LDUs in the Tuesday traders’ protest, Assistant Superintendent of Police – ASP Luke Owoyesigyire, who is also deputy Kampala police spokesperson explained that the police force has no problem working alongside LDUs. Owoyesigyire said it depends on the operations commander to decide on whether to work with LDUs or not.
By Thursday afternoon, checkpoints at the Kyaliwajjala junction, Namugongo road, Ntinda junction, Mbalwa and other roadblocks had no LDUs. Since the lockdown that started in March, most of the checkpoints have been manned by police and LDUs.
Several cases of LDUs brutality have been recorded since the lockdown whereby some people have died after being shot or beaten. LDUs, police and UPDF have been cited in the shooting and beating to death of 13 people since the lockdown started.