“I have had to replace bed sheets and shoes for my senior three son in the last two years after all of them were stolen and I have since vowed never to buy good quality items for him ever again, ” said Ronald Mukemba a Kawempe Division tailor who was not at liberty to reveal the identity of his son’s school for fear of possible reprisals.
Mukemba lamented his son’s claim that his bed sheets had been stolen while at school. Mukemba was particularly incensed by rumors that metrons, security guards and wardens conspire to steal pupils/students personal effects and sell them on the open market.
Mukemba’s belief that some unscrupulous caretakers in dormitories are to blame is supported by the view by Godfrey Luwagga, a Kawempe Division Councillor, one of the proprietors of Bright Day and Boarding School in Kawempe Division.
Luwagga alleges that some school administrators are simply too lax when it comes to upholding ethical and integrity of its workers.
“Schools administrators need to awake to the importance of roll calls at different times and places within their school campuses.
This is helpful while carrying out investigations when such thefts occur since they (roll calls) account for the where abouts of students/pupils at various times,” Luwagga added.
The Sunrise cannot independently verify these claims, but Mukemba’s fears are shared by a growing number of parents.
But Mukemba is just one of the thousands of frustrated and angry parents and guardians who continue to agonize due to loss of their children’s property at different levels of the education cycle.
The loss of personal items has led both parents and school administrations to devise strategies such as name-marking blankets and clothes to prevent the wastage of their hard-earned money.
But even some of those strategies haven’t worked, as Jenifer Nakayiza revealed that her attempts at labeling her daughters bedding yielded similar results.
“This time I want to name-mark them with the help of a sewing machine, perhaps that will help to keep away thieves!” She adds despondently.
But the claim presented to most parents that metrons and wardens conspire to steal their items has been dismissed by a number of teachers and school administrators The Sunrise has spoken to.
Jeremiah Jjemba, the proprietor of Noble care primary school in Kawempe Division argues that loss of property is most rampant in dormitories with bigger numbers of over grown pupils in a primary school setting.
“Such (age groups) easily succumb to the temptation of stealing fellow pupils’ property, while some even go to the extent of destroying or throwing away colleagues’ items out of feats of jealousy,” Jjemba stated. He expressed disappointment at the fact that some parents tend to believe lies propagated by their children that caretakers steal their items as a way to push away blame and any possible punishment.
Isa Senkumba, the head of the disciplinary committee and career department at Mbogo mixed secondary school observes however that often, students simply lose the items especially at the end of the term when they are returning home but fear to tell their parents the truth.
“We have severally witnessed students abandoning property at the notice that their parents have arrived to pick them at the close of the term, hopping to get new ones the following term. Of course in such a situation they have to tell their parents that their belongings were stolen from the dormitory in order to justify acquisition of new ones,” Senkumba stated
He explains that some students often carelessly leave their suit cases open exposing them to theft following after losing keys and breaking their padlocks.
He adds: “We also have common cases of students themselves who sell their own property to both fellow students and outsiders especially when they are hard up,” Senkumba says condemning student’s who succumb to the temptation of living outside of their limited means.
Hadijah Nasejje concurs with Ssenkumba, she explains that her own son who completed Senior six sold his mattress to a fellow student and claimed that it had been stollen. It was only after some other student tipped her about the sale that she learnt the truth.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga confirms that the Police is aware of the vice and calls for more vigilance on the part of school administrators if efforts of curbing it can ever see the light of day.
“Theft is theft whether petty or otherwise regardless of where it happens because it is a crime against property and culprits need to be duly handled,” Enanga said.
He has also advised school administrators to reinvigorate school security committees which he says were sanctioned during the school fires’ crisis to handle security related threats including theft in schools.
“They (security committees) are meant to have representatives from all classes/dormitories and should therefore bring all acts of indiscipline to the attention of disciplinary committees to be followed and investigated as quickly as they happen in the school,”
Enanga stated promising that the police force is considering establishing a junior corps squad and senior corps squad to handle such juvenile delinquent acts in schools and tertiary institutions respectively in the near future.