Theft in homes, villages, residential areas and office break-ins are becoming common in Uganda today. Thieves are creating a sense of fear and insecurity in areas which they roam.
In some villages in Masaka thugs beat up their victims, rob them of household items and money leaving them for dead.
In Kampala in the last few months there has been a spate of break-ins in offices especially those owned by civil society organisations. The office of the human rights NGO, Human Rights Network, was broken into; computers and other office equipment stolen. Last year the offices of The Observer newspaper were broken into and the same incident happened last weekend on April 1.
Sometimes, in these office break-ins, the guard who is assigned to protect the offices connives with the thugs to rob the guarded premises. For example, police CIDs investigating the recent break in at The Observer newspaper think that the security guards were involved.
“Detectives on April 1 found the security guard Isaac Chibet’s uniform and gun on the premises, but he cannot be contacted as his phone is switched off.” Chebet works for the KPI security firm. Chebet who hails from Kapchworwa has only been in Kampala for a month according to his brother. But KPI security officials insist Chebet may have been kidnapped.
Over 20 computers, including the computer that stores the CCTV footage, were stolen in the April 1 theft at The Observer newspaper.
“Recent break-ins appear to form part of a longer-term, systemic, and worsening pattern of attacks on Ugandan civil society organizations targeting their legitimate and valuable work,” reads part of the statement issued by a group of local and international organizations following the break in at some organization offices.
Need to know information:
- Available information shows that since September 2012, there have been over twenty four break-ins at NGO offices across Uganda.
- Private security guards have been killed in the course of two break-ins, registered in July 2015 and May 2016.
- In most incidents documents, electronic data, and other confidential and sensitive information has been stolen. Data theft appears to have been the objective, in cases where expensive technology was left untouched.
- On May 22, 2016, intruders broke into the offices of the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF), an organization that provides legal support and representation to marginalized people. Here the criminals beat to death the security guard, Emmanuel Arituha, ransacked the offices of the Director and the Deputy Director, and stole documents as well as a television screen.
- May 24, 2016, intruders broke into the offices of the Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE), an organization that promotes gender equity and equality in education. They stole a server, laptop and desktop computers, cameras, and projectors.
- April 10, 2016, a visitor to the office of the Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) – a network of journalists working to advance human rights – apparently offered the security guard a plate of food containing sedatives.
Organizations broken into in 2014 included Human Rights Network, the Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda, the Uganda Land Alliance, Action Group for Health, Human Rights and HIV/Aids, and Lira NGO Forum
- In villages of greater Masaka, tension and fear are high because of anonymous letters dropped by thugs threatening to attack residents any time this week.
- In the past few months thugs armed with clubs, machetes, axes, sticks, etc have been roaming villages in the districts of Lwengo, Rakai, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Masaka robbing the residents of their household items and money leaving many severely injured.
- This time round the thugs have written letters asking the residents who are perceived poor to leave at least Shs20,000 notes at the doorsteps or else they will face off with them.
- Kampala police spokesman, Emilian Kayima advises companies to employ at least three guards to avoid the chance of guards conniving with thieves to break in offices.
- He urges homes and villages to adopt neighbourhood watches and give information to the police to help in apprehending criminals.