Village patrols should be a blessing to all residents across Uganda as far as primary security is concerned. If you find them you should, from within your heart, say: ‘I am now safe.’ But to some of the residents of Mirembe cell, Nabuyonga ward, Mbale Municipality, these patrols are a cause of more agony. The residents say that meeting the village patrol is more terrifying than meeting thugs.
“The patrol that is carried out by the Police and the UPDF is good. When they find you, you explain to them and they escort you to your residence in case they have doubts about you, but the LC1 [Local Council 1] patrols are more of thugs,” Silliman, one of the residents said.
I travelled to Mirembe a few days ago after being contacted by one of the residents about the situation in their area. I was welcomed by a number of residents who saw me as an effective messenger to carry their message across.
“We are very happy that you have finally come. We are here crying with no hope. Your coming is a blessing Mr. Journalist,” one of the residents said.
Abdul Wahed Ntunda now requires the help of a walking stick after his experience with the same patrols where he received a beating, and he is still undergoing treatment following what he alleges was a violent interception by the village patrol.
Dressed in a yellowish T-shirt, with a blue jeans pair of trousers, and seated under a shade next to his house, Ntunda, who was speaking in a low tone, narrated how the village security nearly ended his life.
“I work in the plumbing department of Tuuka Trading Stores Mbale where I head the loading and offloading section.
“On January 30, at around 4:00am, after escorting my boss who was going to Kampala to purchase some goods, I boarded a boda boda back home. My home is 500 meters away from the main road so when we arrived at the main road I got off the boda boda. Before even paying the boda boda I saw a group of men dressed in black attire surrounding me, asking me one question: ‘Unatoka wapi[where are you coming from]?’ I only identified one man, Abdul Kareem, the Defense Secretary of Kisenyi, a village we share boundary with. I explained to them but to my surprise Kareem, who knows me very well, even where I reside, was the first person to hit me. He was joined by his colleagues and they all beat me thoroughly and dragged me to Nkoma Police Station,” Ntunda narrated.
He added: “They threw me outside the Police station and a man who knows me, Kirya, who was passing by, came and took me back to my home.
The folowing morning I went to the LCI Chairman and reported my issue. He forwarded me to police.”
Ntunda said that at the Nkoma police station, the officer in charge (OC) of the station, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Edith Illatukunda, allegedly refused to record his case. I only succeeded in registering the case at the Central Police Station (CPS) Mbale under reference: CPS Mbale 03/01/02/2019 Simple Robbery and Assault.
Residents attack Abdul Kareem
According to the residents, on Saturday February 2, at around 11:00am, a group of 20 young men stormed Abdul Kareem’s home in Kisenyi to avenge the beating of their fellow resident.
They were intercepted by the police and one of them was reportedly arrested and the others were still on the run by the time this report was filed.
Abdul Waheed, however, denied any knowledge of a plan to attack Abdul Kareem.
Operation carried out
The police, in conjunction with the offices of LC1 of Mirembe and Kisenyi cells, responded by carrying out operations in Kalintusi, a hangout section of the area with so many bars, where they arrested a number of young men.
According to Ntunda, the operation which was meant for Kalintusi was extended to his home.
“The OC operations wanted to take away the piece of paper on which my reference number from the CPS had been written but the residents refused.
“He shot a bullet near the leg of one of my friends who had come to see me. They arrested them and took them to police. Even my mother was arrested but she was later released,” Ntunda said.
It is true Kalitunsi is deadly – residents
The residents of the cell admitted that Kalitunsi is dangerous since it is a hangout for all sorts of people because it is surrounded by bars.
But what hurts them most is that whenever police carry out operations, they arrest even people who are attending to their businesses including shops.
“It is perceived by police that all the people who live in this area are criminals so when the police are carrying out operations they do not differentiate between the criminals and the law abiding citizens. They just arrest indiscriminately,” one resident said.
Ntunda’s wife appeals for help
Betty Namuyonga, Ntunda’s wife, cried out that her husband, who was providing for the family, was now unable to work.
“I appeal to the concerned authorities to see to it that we receive justice,” Nabuyonga said.
Kisenyi village side speak out
Issa Wamboga, the Chairman LC1 Kisenyi cell, where Abdul Kareem resides, condemned the young men, whom he called thugs from Mirembe cell, for attempting to kill his defense secretary from his own home.
Wamboga said: “I am so embarrassed that these people wanted to kill our defense but I myself led the operation.
“We arrested a good number of thugs. You journalists like spoilt things I am sure you are now happy. But ‘can you operate in an insecure environment?'”
Wamboga vowed that he would not rest until all the people who attempted to kill his defense secretary were arrested.
Residents are bitter
Olol Hassan: We want the intervention of the concerned authorities. The police of Nkoma is killing us
Namalike zulaika: Crime preventers have tortured us a lot. We drink with them but after that they always go ahead to arrest us anyhow.
Councillor condemns situation
Yasin Wabomba the LCIV Councillor of Nabuyonga ward, doubling as the vice speaker Mbale Municipality, condemned the acts.
“If this young man was tortured that is too bad, but mobilizing yourselves to attack one person in another village is also bad,” Wamboga said.
Police speak out
John Robert Tukei, the Elgon Region police spokesperson said that according to what he was briefed by the OC Nkoma Police Station, Illatukunda, Ntunda was very drunk and a group of people sympathized with him. They took him to Nkoma Police Station for safety but he had instead turned against them, claiming that he had been assaulted.
12 arrested in the operation
Tukei confirmed that during the Saturday operation 12 people were arrested.