The Ben Kiwanuka-Clock Tower-Kibuye stretch is notorious for phone snatchers from passengers in vehicles entangled in traffic jam and last Saturday was no exceptional.
A man in his early 20s moved from the side of Shoprite and snatched a phone from an unsuspecting passenger in a taxi before taking getting lost in thin air.
However, little did the passenger or even the thief know that one of the nearby newly installed CCTV cameras was recording the events as they unfolded until a few days later when the 34 second video went viral .
Fast forward, on Wednesday morning, 17 year old Essau Nduhukire was nabbed red handed as he returned to the same spot that is known to him as a working station.
According to Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire, through use of human intelligence and the recorded CCTV video, the tracked and later arrested the 17 old.
“As the incident happened, our officers manning the national command centre at Nateete watched and alerted a nearby police patrol to apprehend the suspect but it was late as he had vanished,”Owoyesigyire told the Nile Post.
“Never the less, our officer reached the place and using the footage recorded asked vendors and other people near Shoprite to help identify the person in the video.”
As lady luck would have it, Nduhukire was a known notorious thief who operates from the area and it was this evidence that police used to track him.
“Using people who know him, we were able to be led to where he stays until we arrested him.”
According to police, despite knowing his movements, the police followed him until he was found at his beat trying to snatch another phone.
“We arrested him from where he steals from,”Owoyesigyire said.
The police would then interrogate the 17 year old and he later led them to a colleague, one Musa Byamukama who police say operates from Kisenyi, another place notorious for thugs and is responsible for buying items stolen by Nduhukire.
The police mouthpiece said that on further interrogation, both admitted to having been working together.
“Nduhukire told our officers that after stealing the items, he takes them to Byamukama who has market for them. Charges of theft have been preferred against him,” he noted.
He however asked the victim of the theft to come and claim their phone.
The police publicist asked the public to always be vigilant while moving in such spots that are notorious for thugs.
“The CCTV cameras might have helped in arresting this one but not all of you will be lucky. You should always be cautious of the environment you are in.”
He said that while traveling in vehicles occupants should ensure windows and doors are closed.”
At the height of the notorious Kifeesi group that operated mainly in the city, a number of people lost their phones to delinquents who would move in groups and attack unsuspecting victims.
These operated especially in areas where there is always traffic jam especially in the rush hours both in the morning and evening.
These would force open car doors or windows and steal valuables including bags and phones and later take.
The victims in most cases don’t follow the assailants for fear of being beaten and sometimes killed by the group who are sometimes armed with iron bars.
Police has however in the past few years tried to clean the city and its suburbs of the notorious criminal gangs and the cases have gradually reduced.
The Wednesday development now underscores the use of the newly installed CCTV cameras that many members of the public doubted.
Speaking during the New Year address early this week, President Museven insisted that the CCTV cameras will greatly help to fight criminality around the country.
“We have been working systematically to resolve the issue of the artificial eyes in the cities, towns and highways and of improved forensic systems. This new year will see us close those gaps forever,”Museveni said.
He had previously predicted doom for criminals.
“When Jesus was crossing the lake and the storm hit the boat, there were disciples who panicked but when he woke up, he blamed them of being with little faith. The problem of criminals is a small thing,”Museveni said while commissioning the national command centre at Nateete in October.
“Dealing with urban criminals is now going to be simpler. It is one of the smallest problems I have solved in last 58 years.”
Police recently announced that a total of 5,552 CCTV cameras will be installed in various places around the country with the Kampala Metropolitan districts of Wakiso, Kampala and Mukono taking a lion’s share with 3233 cameras on 1248 sites.
The newly installed CCTV cameras are of two types including the fixed and Pan Tilt Zoom(PTZ) cameras that rotates and views 360 degrees.
The camera also have a feature of automatic number plate recognition for reading number plates including those for motorcycles.
The CCTV cameras also have a facial recognition feature, night vision, Global Positioning System (GPS) and automatic cleaning system.
According to Commissioner of Police, Felix Baryamwisaki, the acting police director in charge of ICT a total of over 400 cameras were by Christmas installed as part of the first phase of the Smart City Project.
The project started with Nateete, Rubaga, Lugala, Kabowa, Kawaala, Lungujja and Kasubi areas of the Old Kampala and Katwe Police divisions whereas Nateete police station currently acts at the temporary national command centre for the CCTV cameras.