Uganda Police Force are using modern CCTV cameras and surveillance tools to monitor and investigate political violence in the country, Chimp Corps report.
The cameras are strategically positioned in hot spot areas known for violence such as Katwe, Wandegeya, Kasangati, Makindye, Bwaise, Nateete, Mukono and Kasubi among others.
Officials told us during our investigation that police are using this technology to single out targets for arrest.
In a recent street battle between supporters of Kyaddondo East lawmaker, Hon Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi in Kasangati, police were able to obtain footage of the demo’s ringleaders.
The footage seen by ChimpReports also shows some of Bobi Wine’s supporters pelting stones at cops and setting bonfires in the streets.
Observers say the advent of facial-recognition technology and the rapid expansion of a vast network of cameras across the country and other tracking tools has begun to increase Uganda police’s surveillance capabilities substantially.
Bobi Wine saga
Uganda Electoral Commission recently gave a green light to Bobi Wine to carry out consultative meetings for his intended presidential bid.
In a letter dated December 9, 2019, EC chairperson Justice Byabakama Mugenyi wrote to Bobi, saying he should “notify the relevant local council and the police of the area you intend to go for the said consultations.”
The EC added: “…we wish to point out that consultations ought to be distinguished from campaigns which take the form of distributing materials, campaigns, holding rallies and meetings and canvassing/soliciting for votes envisaged under Sections 21 and 24 of the Presidential Elections Act, 2005.”
Byabakama told Bobi that consultations “means an exchange of views in an attempt to reach a decision,” adding, “We therefore, urge you to desist from hosting rallies, campaigns and carrying out processions on public roads under the guise of conducting consultative meetings as this would totally be at the variance with the objective of consultations…”
Bobi would later move to hold his consultations in Kasangati only to be stopped by police.
Bobi said, “despite complying with all lawful requirements, the police and military have blocked the first consultative meeting for the 2021 Presidential election.”
The People Power group leader and his supporters were arrested by police.
During the protests, a one-day-old baby inhaled teargas after a canister fell in a private residence.
Police, relying on CCTV footage, say Bobi Wine’s supporters wreaked havoc on public infrastructure by burning rubbish/tyres, as well as private property by smashing taxi and car windows.
The law enforcement body further said the same crowd stoned the police in the line of duty with civilians in the crossfire.
Relying on the footage provided by PVT cameras, police are reportedly planning to open up charges on suspected perpetrators of the violence.
How the cameras function
PTZ cameras are remotely controlled, and allow the operator to pan (move left or right), tilt up and or down, or zoom closer or farther away in order to follow people as they move.
For example the police footage shows faces of youth blocking roads and pulling innocent civilians off boda bodas. They also show Commuter taxis with shattered windows, threatening passenger’s lives.
The PTZ Cameras supplied by Chinese firm, Huawei, lets operators zoom in on specific areas or track specific movements.
Edward Ssebwufu alias Eddy Mutwe, Bobi wine’s bodyguard is seen meeting some of the youth who are later captured on video pelting stones at police.
The cameras can also run patterns or turn to a preset position.
One of the rioters in a people power attire can be seen running across the road and throwing the smoking canister towards the cars in the traffic jam.
In other incidents, the youth are seen diverting traffic and barricading busy roads.
The footage shows overloaded motorcycles with multiple people standing outside overloaded moving cars and youth in People Power uniforms and insignia removing police barricades from the road.
The CCTV operations are being run from the police headquarters in Naguru.
President Museveni recently commissioned the command, control, communication, coordination and intelligence centre for Uganda Police Force.
“It is where the videos, data and voice of the CCTV and other systems will be monitored from,” said Police boss Okoth Ochola in 2018, adding, “Therefore it is a vital structure that will house critical installations.”
A low ranking officer told this website that CCTV cameras are helping them in “timely identification, confirming and following incidents close up and in every direction of Uganda.”
The contact also said the cameras have not only helped in managing political violence but also addressed people’s fear of crime-prone areas of Kampala.
“Offenders are getting a message – they can hardy evade the eyes of our cameras,” he said.