NBS investigative journalists lure serial rapist into Police net

NBS investigative journalists lure serial rapist into Police net
The veil of a criminal

NOTE: Reader discretion advised as the contents might be disturbing for some 

INVESTIGATION | At the climax of 2023, a team of investigative journalists at NBS Television attended a social gathering organised by online 'sex vendors' known as 'Hookers'. 

The journalists' team had been informed of a serial criminal targeting hookers from their own WhatsApp group.

The party was widely publicised across their platforms and it was important to see what happens when hookers meet.

They often meet, blow off and openly be who they are - hookers. It is a moment of fun and more.

Online hookers are people who transact sexual services for money, using social media platforms such as WhatsApp to hook clients.

But these hookers are being targeted by perverted criminals. The victims are raped, robbed and often scarred for life, both emotionally and physically from brutal knife attacks.

The NBS Investigates went out for details of these criminal activities and revealed a sordid picture of scam, rape, money and sextortion.

Victims of this horror testify with a lot pain, recollecting moments with the sex predators. The encounters always bring them to the grim realisation that theirs is a life-threatening undertaking.

Hookers reveal that their tormentors have had sex with various girls at knife-point, turning hooking into rape.

Others are violently assaulted while others survive death by a whisker.

“He punched me had like he would a fellow man. I could not fight back and I couldn’t defend myself,” one of the victims told NBS Television.

The questions of where it happens from, who does it, how and why were at the centre of this investigation.

One of the victims is a 27-year-old code-named Miss-D. She cheated death on the night of November 14, 2023, while she had gone to meet a friend turned aggressor in Bulaga, a rapidly growing city suburb along Kampala-Mityana Road.

This is the operation base for the suspected rapist cum robber who has gradually become a serial criminal, hooking vulnerable girls and women into grim mess.

As daylight starts to wane when night dwellers are hustling and other people are soaked in sleep, this town becomes an enclave for sex predators hooking their prey while undetected.

One of the victims of the rapist's knife attack is scarred for life

“When we got here, he held me by the throat and pulled out his knife and asked me for all my belongings. He told me not to shout, or he would kill me,” – Miss-D told the NBS Journalists.

At a knife-point, she tried to escape, only to be stabbed on her left arm and deeply at the right side of her back.

Miss D bled profusely. This was in the wee hours but luckily enough, she fell into some fast responders that saved her from the jaws of death.

The responders, including the area defense committee member Martin Katongole, told our reporter that the victim was bleeding so much that they tried stopping the blood soaking it with clothing.

Miss-D was taken to a nearby health facility and later referred to Kiruddu Hospital for further management.

A chest X-ray on November 16, 2023 revealed that she needed a chest drainage to relieve her from the pain from the wounds. The minor operation was done at Kiruddu.

Five days later, Miss-D was discharged, returning home with lifelong scars, chronical cough punctuated with difficulty in breathing, and emotional distress.

Miss-D is a figure among many other women desperate for justice.

Agaba's fears to come out

One of the victims is interviewed by NBS Investigates

The NBS Investigates found another victim of rape, robbery and exploitation by an unknown man in the same area, Bulaga, suspiciously using the same tactics.

Code-named Agaba, 32-year-old mother of two had kept her mouth shut for nearly three months for fear of rebuke and ridicule. She describes her story as “painful and shameful”, that it cannot be told to just anyone.

Like, Miss-D, Agaba was invited by a bloke to a location in Bulaga for commercial sexual pleasure.

She had hooked him over sex for money only to guide her into a black spot and take advantage of her desperate need for a pay.

She was stripped of her clothes, raped at knife-point and all her belongings stolen, leaving her in shame, self-blame and emotionally broken.

At first sight, Agaba is visibly strong, but you can feel the pain in her muffled voice. Then reality betrays everything as she burst into tears.

The night she was raped and survived death, she started drinking alcohol, because; she says, “I wanted to forget about it, I started having sleepless nights, whoever I could see had turned into a rapist that’s why I turned to alcohol.”

Our investigations begin to notice a pattern in the criminal activity. Agaba and Miss-D have one thing in common: their rapist is suspected to be of the same identity, lives and operations in the same location, and he seems to be using the same hooking tactics.

This pattern is crucial in this investigation. Both of them met the suspected criminal via WhatsApp.

The NBS Investigates covertly joined some these WhatsApp groups hookers and potential clients meet to share information about their sexual life.

In there are different conversations and strategies for people to find sexual patterns on a daily. It’s a busy platform on and the contents are rated XXX.

The hookers' Whatsapp groups are wild

Such groups are not regulated, and the risks to individual members are high, ranging from compromising their privacy and personal data, contracting STDs and other relative complications.

Agather, one of the group members, also a victim of sextortion, told this reporter that such groups house scammers and criminals who invite hookers with motivates to exploit them.

“…and you fear speaking out,” she added.

Despite whispers of injustices meted against the hookers, group members and their admins were adamant to take action, until Miss-D was stabbed.

Because she had the confidence to speak about her violent attack in the WhatsApp group, it sparked concerted efforts and an outpouring of concerns.

Group members shared contacts of the suspected attacker, who was using several Simcards to set his sex traps.

The suspect was trapped using own tactics

“If you get a call from this number, girls block it or try to lure him... we are using [Police] flying squad to track this guy. What I am ashamed of, he is a member here…embwa eyo [that dog],” one of the group admins revealed.

From the images shared, the suspect is youthful and sports neat beard, with a slender body morphology and a reasonable height. Some know him as Simon, others Steven.

The suspect would then send shivers to the hookers when he texted one of the girls in the WhatsApp group.

“Be careful,.. who are you forwarding my pictures to,” he scoffed.

The cover is blown, the suspect was following the conversation in the group and the girls had been outsmarted. From then on, the suspect slipped away.

At this point, NBS Investigates decided to go undercover, communicating with the suspect directly.

The team started laying traps with the aim of luring the suspect to meet one of our baits - a female journalist, going undercover.

  • Suspect: Hi
  • Undercover: Yes
  • Suspect: Can we meet today?
  • Undercover: Yes, where?
  • Suspect: Let me plan it
  • Undercover: Ok
  • Suspect: Promise Guest House, opposite De Vine Bulenga Kasasa

From this conversation, the suspect is willing to meet our undercover reporter. It is his kind script, and now a group of journalists is inside his own predator arena - the game flipped on its head.

“We talked for some days, he tried to give me different appointments, I could fail to make it, on the fourth appointment I was ready with my team,” the undercover journalist said.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023, the D- Day   

The suspect as captured by body camera on the NBS Investigates journalist

  • Suspect: Where have you reach
  • Undercover: I'm at Mwenda
  • Suspect: Audio: I told you as petrol station, after Stabex, that’s where I am.

The suspect had instructed our undercover journalist to set off to Bulaga at 9pm and she would take a boda-boda.

Wired with a secret camera and clear instruction for her risk management, she was given a ride by one of the journalists covering this story - who was disguised as a boda operator.

The makeshift boda guy was also wired with a camera and similar risk management instructions.

The team arrived in Bulaga two hours to the expected time of appointment. The would-be crime scene was carefully inspected, and a group of armed police officers from Bulaga Police Post were briefed and given orders of arrest by OC station.

A group of Bulaga-B village defence team also joined the operation and the crime scene was covertly surrounded by 9pm.

On boda boda is our undercover reporter and in a waiting, in the car were the covert team from police. Mission was to arrest the suspected attacker and serial rapist.

Our bait arrived at the meeting point just on time, but the suspect was not there. He was apparently watching the rendezvous from a distance, a dark spot, and only instructing our undercover reporter to meet him where he was standing.

He used the screen lighting on his smartphone for his identification.

“You look in front of you, look, phone is up,” the suspect says as recorded by the secret camera, in close proximity with the bait.

Having seen the flashlight as instructed, the suspect and bait walked towards each other, with her camera on and the covert team ready to pounce.

That moment serial rapist Steven Odonkara realises it is all over

Steven Odongkara had exhausted his proverbial nine lives and he was about to start using the rest of his live in paying for his crimes.

The police pounced on him and the NBS Investigates four cameras on the location rolling, there was no escape.

A quick search of the Odongkara revealed that he had sharp knife on is body.

The locals here are familiar with the stories of rape and robbery inflicted onto most girls in their neighborhood. And this was the point our undercover journalist was struck by fear.

“On touching on him, they realized he had a knife, they pulled it out of his pant, the knife was bright and glittering, I got so much shocked,” she told the team thereafter.

It was job of selfless courage that was successfully executed.

At the scene of crime, Odongkara confessed his criminal tendencies and revealed that he was working with someone else, who by the time of the sting operation had relocated to Jinja and remains at large.

This incident was of national news and it made it to the weekly police press briefings, where the police spokesperson Fred Enanga said “Odongkara was arrested for a string of knife point robberies.”

His arrest has hastened the need for justice by his rape and robbery victims.  Over more five girls and women have written statements at police stations in Bulaga and Wakiso reporting and identifying Odongkara as their tormentor.

Steven Odongkara was taken into custody and now awaits prosecution

“He should be castrated in public, that’s my wish,” said one woman.

“That person doesn’t deserve to be freed,” added another.

“It’s a night mare for me each time I meet men with beard,” added yet another victim.

Among other cases, Odongkara is facing charges of rape and robbery. The Penal Code stipulates that any person who commits the offence of rape is liable on conviction to suffer death.

The offence of attempted rape is defined under section 119 and a penalty of life imprisonment is prescribed.

City lawyer Prima Kwagala offers free legal services to women and her organization, the Women Probono Initiative, on daily interacts with sex related cases and their problems.

“Our society is patriarchal, it’s the boys that inherit the land so if you need some small piece of land sometimes the solution is to sleep with the owner of the land or sleep with people with money...” she told NBS.

Ms Kwagala said some girls offer sex in exchange for their basic needs, while others take it as the only job available for them.

She, however, pointed that sextortion and prostitution in general are legally unacceptable trades in Uganda, and culprit and liable on conviction to serve a jail sentence of up to seven years.

______________________________________________

NBS investigates will keeping an eye to the tail end of this case, and the way forward for the shattered lives of the victims

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