On Friday morning at about 11:00 am, heavy police and military deployment were seen in downtown Kampala around Mutaasa Kafeero plaza, Katwe and around Cooper Complex building.
A silent security operation no one knew about brought about a lot of speculation on what exactly the operation was about. By the end of the operation, police were able to arrest and detain 258 suspects, recover 280 suspected stolen laptops, 25 suspected stolen television sets, 10 suspected stolen CPUs, 134 suspected stolen motorbikes and police walked away with more 7 police trucks loaded with spare parts like car and motor engines.
Our investigative reporter Canary Mugume has spoken to a number of security operatives who were part of the raid and now brings you an exclusive on how this plan was hatched and executed without any violence and little communication.
On 15th October 2019, President Museveni tweeted and said he had tasked the deputy inspector general of Police Maj.Gen.Sabiti Muzeyi to come up with a plan on how to deal with the creeping city criminal gangs that are terrorizing and robbing people at night.
“These are gangs we shall easily defeat. That is what we did with the Kiddawalime gang in Masaka, the gang of Bukomero, the gang of Entebbe, etc. I have given 2 days to Commander Sabiiti of the Police to come out with a plan to combat these gangs. The IGP is away in Peru for a meeting. I will look at that plan, comment on it and it will, then, be communicated to all of you,” Museveni said in a tweet.
Our Investigation desk got information that DIGP Maj.Gen. Sabiti Muzeyi had to beat the deadline and submitted the plan. Sources very close to security informed us that the President had a long conversation with the security chief and while referring to an intelligence file, Museveni proposed an idea on cracking a whip on the criminal gangs downtown Kampala who are dealing in drugs, selling stolen phones, computers and other gadgets.
Immediately DIGP Maj.Gen. Sabiti Muzeyi returned to base, he called for a joint security meeting with Police Crime Intelligence, Field Force Unit, Military Police, Kampala Metropolitan Police leadership, K9 unit, Anti-narcotics, Police’s Crime investigations department, and fire brigade department. The aim of the meeting was to consolidate intelligence and plan for the execution of the raid downtown.
Between 17th October and 23rd October, several security units were sent out in the field dressed as civilians to confirm that the execution plan would be successful if carried out in a way that was discussed in a high-level security meeting.
‘By Friday morning, only the leadership of the above-mentioned security units and departments had information on what exactly was going to take place. The rest of the field officers were told while on the way to the operation and their phones were taken away,’ a source inside security tells us.
All teams were divided into three groups and they set off to three locations.
Police had received numerous complaints and intelligence reports that Katwe had been a hotbed of crime especially shops that sell motorcycles and their spare parts like engines and lights.
Upon arriving at the location, Police with the help of her other security agents started arresting suspects and rounding off a number of shops. ‘One of the suspects who had petrol in a Rwenzori mineral water bottle started pouring it all over the shops so he could burn what looked like evidence for us,’ a field officer who was part of the Katwe operation tells us.
The intelligence report that our reporter was able to look at, indicated that the building located along Nakivubo Green Street – downtown Kampala, was a hotbed of all types of narcotic drugs and perhaps this explains why the anti-narcotics team was part of the security meeting that planned the execution of this operation.
About 70 suspects were arrested from the building and several sacks full of drugs were mounted on police trucks.
Mutaasa Kafeero Plaza.
If you have been to downtown Kampala, you already know that Mutaasa kafeero plaza has got the cheapest phones and laptops in Kampala. The intelligence report indicated that most of these gadgets were stolen from people and taken to Mutaasa Kafeero for resale. What shocked security, is that inside the building had a section of men who were specialists in changing serial numbers of stolen phones and laptops.
Sources who were part of the raid tell us that their phones were taken away from the Police headquarters to block communication between Police officers and the criminal gangs downtown Kampala because the intelligence report indicated that police officers were accomplices to the criminal gangs who give them money to protect them and their identities. Communication between the field officers on the ground was only through radio calls.
When security officers arrived downtown Kampala, the phone network was sabotaged. One would hardly make a call, send a message on WhatsApp or upload anything on facebook. This was aimed at easing the raid without major challenges like suspects being tipped off and they run away
Massive arrests, non-violent raid
To security, the raid was a huge success because all major suspects were arrested. ‘It was easy to arrest them because he had wrecked the area days before the raid and we knew who these people were,’ a military police officer who was part of the raid tells us.
Most of the arrests carried out by Police and accompanied by military Police are always marred by violent means of arrest and beating up of suspects. The order of DIGP was that suspects should be handled well because they needed to interrogate them.
The suspects will soon be taken to court.