In a wake of murders, it seems no one is really taking charge of who is who in our neighborhoods. Just recently, I was called at 4:00am to go to cover a tragedy that happened Kikoni- Makerere. Apparently, Ren-Ju aged 33years formerly working at Kololo Club Seven as a waitress and Sang-Weng-Wa a 34 year old formerly working at the Chinese Business Hotel on 5th street Bugolobi industrial Area both Chinese nationals were found dead in a residential house in Kikoni Zone C a Kampala suburb.
Locals had become attracted to the scene after a putrid smell started emanating from the house. The inhabitants (who are believed to be two Chinese women) who had joined the house a week earlier had not been seen for several days in the lead up to the discovery of their remains.
The case had been reported to Jinja Road Police and then later handed over to the police flying squad unit to take action. Preliminary investigations by police indicated that Fred Ssembatya a special hire driver who operates from Chez Johnson in Nakulabye suburb had been hired by a Chinese man to pick his guest at Club 7 in Kololo Kampala.
Ssembatya apparently drove one of the waitresses (Chinese national) to the residence in question in Kikoni and later went after his payment. Another female is picked from Bugolobi and brought in the same house. It all turns out later that the Chinese gentleman was on mission to finish the lives of the innocent souls after they were found rotting in the house, 5 days later with rancid smell from the house, with their bodies indicating severe injuries purported to have been stabbed to death.
Police however says they are investigating the Chinese male who had rented the house a week ago who is currently on the run. One of the female tenants allegedly is contacted by this Chinese man who offers her money to first be away from the residential area for some time. The lady (Ugandan) simply doesn’t question and rather leaves not knowing that the residence was to later turn into a slaughter house. The land lady says she only had his contact but never knew his name and or where he came from, what he was doing.
In May 2013, one of my colleagues, (student at Makerere University) was found in his rented house in Kawaala also a Kampala suburb along Hoima Road and was beheaded by an unknown assailants and police promised to investigate, 4 years later, we are yet to receive investigation findings. Apparently, the landlord never had any information about simple basics of who, where his tenant came from and it was through tracing from Makerere that we had to provide the needed particulars of the deceased. All the landlord knew was the gentleman was yet to pay his rent for the recess.
We have seen several murders, of Muslim clerics, including the recent UPDF soldier Maj. Kiggundu. The fateful murder of Joan Kagezi and yet we are about to hear from the investigations team (that is our security).
I have constantly overheard the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kalekyezi Kayihura say there was need to revamp
the Mayumba Kumi concept (Mayumba Kumi is a swahili concept to mean ten houses that was brought by Dr. Milton Obote after his return from Tanzania. It is a system of administration (more so security system) which would cluster ten houses to ensure people know who is who in a locality. It is usually aimed at improving vigilance, security awareness among other things) but would it really work when everything related to a gathering is susceptible to security clampdown as a political gathering which apparently will threaten the security of the country.
Advanced by many security experts, neighborhoods watch, personal and premise security is very vital in enhancing safety of persons and properties. In Tanzania, the equivalent for neighborhood watch would be the “mayumba kumi”. Under this initiative, 10 closely linked homes are brought together to enhance their security. They know one another, hold meetings and can call upon each other anytime in case of need.
But how will this work with the in existent, weak or corrupt LC system that have failed to even do the basic supervision and monitoring of government programmes, institutions?
From experience, by the time my Village Chairperson seeks a bribe of 10,000 shillings for him to stamp a document for me, yet he can see a UPE school rot away in his reign with at least no minimal supervision then we will continue to suffer and am highly doubtful the Mayumba Kumi concept can operate with such kinds of systems.
In a few years time, the Uganda Police Force launched the community policing strategy (programme) that has been tried and tested in many other countries such as the United States of America, Britain, India, etc. In some countries, they are referred to as “crime stoppers.” Although they go by different names in these countries, crime preventers are universal and so is community policing.
According to police, in Uganda, one of the community policing strategies was to recruit 30 crime preventers per village to aid the police. They are recruited as volunteers and are free to operate private businesses such as in merchandise or farming. These crime preventers operate from their own communities to prevent crimes. They can be young, middle aged or old. Crime prevention has no age limit according to police.
Modeled partly on the Tanzanian concept of Ujamaa Village policy, and other forms of participatory organization worldwide, at its inception, the NRM came with the RC system which emerged as primary units of politicization of rural populace during the NRM guerilla war.
Following the capture of state power, they were institutionalized throughout the country. Their main intention is that they operate as civilian watch dogs over maintenance of security, the observance of law and order, the recruitment of personnel for security forces and to link government to the broad masses of the population. There is a close link between the RC system and the Crime Preventers concept.
Conceptually, there is much to commend the idea of extending participation beyond the Westminster-style mode of that characterized most of earlier Ugandan regimes. However, in the implementation of the idea and in their actual operation the crime preventers system leaves much to be desired.
The most serious problem with the crime prevention model is that it is in the air. There is seemingly no approval from the grassroots. They are not a product of people’s independent creativity. For those who know the structures of Crime preventers, someone once pointed to me that these are structures flocked with opportunists and through them, people are being suppressed. The major problems within the model which must be addressed last year is the hierarchical structure of the Crime Prevention which lacks any real/ tangible link between the people on ground and the state. I imagine a village where there are only members who least subscribe the current regime does it tolerate other voices apart from crime preventers?
The second problem is extensive powers vested in the crime preventers. How much of the law do they know? What about people’s rights?
To have a fully functional body with full approval of society, we need to ask ourselves the what questions, who are being recruited? Former criminal gangsters, desperate unemployed Ugandans who in a way because they do not receive pay from the police considerably continue to extort money from citizens. My argument here is not to downplay the role of crime preventers in the crime reduction; however there is need to restructure some of them.
This is no wonder that organized crime has increased in the country. Someone grabs your property on the streets of Kampala and or breaks your car window in traffic jam, walks away with your property with nothing to do to them.
The next day, you receive a call from one of these criminals asking for ransom in order for you to receive back your property. Some of the local council leaders especially within Kampala know and or operate with these criminals who eventually report to them.
Some of them even go ahead to cut off people’s car number plates and keep asking for money from a victim. Who should really take charge of security of Ugandans? Just like I mentioned, while we may need the Mayumba-Kumi system for decentralized security how will we handle the Public Order Management Act (POMA) when to assemble alone one needs clearance from security organs?
In case you do not respond to their demands, you will be shocked to find your phone being sold in Cooper Complex, Kisenyi roadside in Kampala. Someone should do something about this strange issue.