By Richard Mbayo
POLICE– Public Officer for Legal Investigation & Criminal Emergency
POLICE– Protection of life in civil establishment
Under chapter 12 section 212 of the 1995 constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the POLICE is mandated to carry out the following functions; To protect life and property, Preserve law and order, Prevent & detect crime and to cooperate with civilian authority and other security organs established under this constitution and with the population generally.
Since Uganda reported her first COVID-19 case in the late March, coronavirus has not killed a single Ugandan, but Police & LDU has killed so many people, tortured Ugandans and mutilated others in the name of enforcing COVID related restrictions.
Uganda Police often have perpetuated violation of the constitution as it directly or indirectly caused the loss of lives of many Ugandans. Recently, on July 2 this year, a one Walugemba Hussein, a boda boda rider in Masaka city, committed suicide by setting himself on fire after UPF officers repeatedly demanded for a bribe to release his bike that they had impounded. This happened when Walugemba pleaded for mercy from traffic officers but all in vain and eventually he brought petrol to the police station to die with officers who luckily survived after running away from the office leaving him alone.
Police are accused of killing People Power Movement supporter, Ritah Nabukenya’s. Nabukenya’s life came to an end on Monday February 24, 2020 after she was allegedly knocked dead in Nakawa Kampala suburb. Her death raised questions among the public like ‘who does the Police serve? Do the men and women in uniform have families?’ Nabukenya was run over by a police patrol truck hours after Hon.Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine consultative meeting at Pope Paul Memorial hotel had been blocked.
Two days later, information circulated across Uganda over the shooting of Dan Kyeyune on 26 February this year. Dan died after being shot in the head by Police and this happened in Nansana Municipality when Police tried to control a procession by People Power Activists who were returning from the burial of their colleague Ritah Nabukenya in Kiboga District.
The shooting of the student in the mouth by Police on Tuesday March 10, 2020 is another insight to describe the Police brutality. Lowena Nankya, a senior six student of Lugazi Mixed School, was on her way to school in the company of her mother who also sustained a broken arm in the fracas. Mr. Patrick Onyango the Kampala Metropolitan Police mouthpiece said “the law enforcement officers used some force, released teargas plus rubber and live bullets. Investigation have been and we shall take action against the officers in the operations he said”
The alleged torture of Hon. Francis Zaake of Mityana Municipality also exposes Police brutality against the citizens. Many wondered that if an MP can be treated the way police tortured him, what about the ordinary citizen who is not in the limelight? Zaake was arrested on April 19, this year from his residence for defying a presidential directive.
The legislator was accused of illegal distribution of food to his hungry constituents without approval of the government. This later led to his detention in Police custody, alleged torture, detaination without trial for 10 days till April 29 at several places including Mityana Police station, CMI HQs in Mbuya, SIU he avers.
Vincent Serungi, a resident of Wakiso town was shot and killed on March 31, Margaret Nanyunga, an 80-year-old woman was murdered when LDUs raided her home on 1st April, in Kyengera. Wilber Kawono, a boda boda rider was shot dead by policemen in Budaka district on April 18,
In Jinja, Evelyn Namulondo was shot dead by the LDU and Charles Sanga, a businessman died after he was violently attacked by soldiers and police officers on the orders of the RDC. On May 13, Eric Mutasiga, a primary school headteacher in Mukono was shot by the LDUs as he pleaded with them not to shoot a chapati seller. He later succumbed to his injuries. In Kasese, Benon Nsimenta a lay reader and father of eight was shot dead by a soldier on June 24. In Oyam, the LDUs beat up a 65-year-old man and killed him last week. The list is endless and the list of those who are nursing gunshot wounds is even longer.
In June, Police arrested over 30 in Nansana Sauna, lodge in its attempts to implement the presidential directive aimed at containing the COVID-19. The move to arrest those people was right and legal but the methodology and procedure applied by Police was uncalled for. Those people have families and they are mothers and fathers so the way they were arrested was unconstitutional as they were dragged in public which was a violation to their dignity.
A police patrol knocked a 3-year-old child in failed pursuit of a boda rider. The reckless patrol driver drove off at breakneck speed in fear of reprisals from the swelling enraged bystanders who were convening to rescue the bleeding 3-year-old. A speeding police patrol on a Friday July, 3 2020 ‘cat and mouse’ chase after a boda rider incidentally knocked and critically wounded a 3-year-old minor identified as Namutunzi in Ndeeba, a Kampala suburb.
It is really beautiful to be optimistic in life but the current state of police affairs in the country makes people wonder what awaits them as the general elections are around the corner. Police behaviour will probably not improve with the establishment facing a new generation of opposition which is determined to oust President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Police are often accused of using the Public Order Management Act 2013 to serve the interests of the government at the expense of the nationals.
The new road map was released by the Electoral Commission allocated a few days to presidential campaigns compared to the time period given to Parliamentary campaigns which became an issue in Uganda’s political arena.
The Uganda Police Image requires tireless efforts in rebranding, restoring confidence and image as the police as it has often ranked the most corrupt institution in Uganda as well as institutions violating in Human rights in the country.
Richard Mbayo is a Graduate Student at Silk Road School of Renmin University of China. Mbayo holds a Bachelor of Development Studies from Kyambogo University.