By Dedan Kimathi
Residents of Mutungo parish, Nakawa division have raised an alarm about the conduct of security operatives during late night patrols and random swoops.
A number of allegations came up in the area lately, that it had become a norm for security officers to extort and assault unsuspecting pedestrians making their way home late in the night.
Peter Okello, 34, a local resident claims that on two occasions he has been forced to pay Shs.10,000 to officers in order to avoid custody, the latest being Monday this week.
This, he says, is the only way of avoiding harassment at night when one crosses the path of the patrol squad at night.
“This time, they do not want to even look at your National Identity card. Now it is money that does the talking,” Okello says.
On the other hand, Angela Nakajiri a bar owner at Kitintale fears that this conduct is likely to hurt her business if people are afraid of moving around at night.
“I don’t have a problem with patrols, but I worry that if these operations continue like this, we won’t have any more customers left,” she said.
According to Hamza Mayambala, the defense secretary for Mutungo Zone III, over the last two weeks he has received three complaints of assault by night patrol officers.
He says while it is true that night patrols have helped lower criminality in the area, a considerable number of residents are increasingly complaining of frequent harassment by security officers.
“The problem is that these officers move without local council personnel to aid with the screening process yet they are new to this area. So how will they tell criminals from the general public,” he explains.
Mayambala says residents are still in shock following the gruesome beating of one Vincent Kimbowa aka Kanyama on Tuesday last week.
It is alleged that Kimbowa was beaten by officers on a patrol at around 3:00PM after a brief alteration
By the time Chimp reports visited him at Mulago hospital’s orthopedic wing; he could neither walk nor sit upright.
In response to this, Edrick Niwamanya the Officer in Charge Mutungo police post says that it is too early to ascertain who clobbered Kimbowa.
He also says Kimbowa told him that it was the so called Kifeesi that attacked him.
“I took him to hospital and he personally told me it were thugs who beat him. Until we confirm, it is too early to point a finger at the army or any other security agency”, Niwamanya said.
In the same regard, Luke Owoyesigyire the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson denies any knowledge about anything to do with rights abuses but urged those affected to file formal complaints with the police as soon as possible.
“I have not received any complaint to do with our ongoing operations. Not even the Kimbowa issue. So if your rights are violated please write to us formally demanding justice”, he says.
The area member of parliament Micheal Kabaziguruka says he is aware of Kimbowa’s predicament but is not yet sure who the perpetrators are.
The MP said he is currently engaging the UPDF and the Police on how to address pervasive operational mistakes that are threatening to draw a divide between security agencies and the population.
“As part of their training, security personnel must exercise maximum restraint even in the face of provocation. I am engaging the Uganda Police and sister agencies on this matter”, he says.
Kabaziguruka on the other hand warns the public against fighting security officers as this might escalate insecurity rather than contain it.
According to rough estimates by Luke Owoyesgyire the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, over 500 suspected criminals have so far been rounded up from different parts of Kampala in an operation code-named “Tokoora” which is aimed at creating sanity in the run up to the festive season.