KAMPALA: The police flying squad unit has arrested six suspected masterminds of highway robberies along the Kampala-Mityana road. Charles Twine, the Spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate-CID, has identified the suspects as Ibrahim Ssemuwemba, a resident of Busega Rubaga Division in Kampala; Ignatius Lwassampijja, a resident of Gombe village in Mityana; and Hakim David, the chairperson of Mirembe Kaweesa village in Kasanda district.
The others are Emmanuel Ddamulira, a resident of Wabigalo in Mityana, Emmanuel Kimbowa Ssegayi, a mechanic in Nazigo, and Ronald Kayiira, a resident of Mirembe-Kawesa in Kasanda district. The six are being held on charges of aggravated robbery. According to the police, the suspects have been conducting robberies from December 2021 to date, majorly targeting people transporting produce from Mityana, Mubende, Kasanda, and Butambala districts destined for Kampala.
It is alleged that the same gang members have been masquerading either as police or army officers on their lawful duty to their unsuspecting victims. In one of the robberies, on January 23, 2022, at Bamunanika village along the Mubende-Kampala Highway, the thugs mounted a fake roadblock dressed in army uniforms and armed with toy guns, machetes, and hammers, and robbed the occupants of a motor vehicle registration number UBG709G Fusso that was loaded with 80 bags of maize destined for Kampala.
They also robbed Shillings 1.2 million and mobile phones from their victims before assaulting the truck driver, Richard Lubega, and three other occupants. They tied their victims with ropes and dumped them in a forest 2 km away from the scene. According to Twine, the truck was later found abandoned in Mukono after getting involved in a motor accident with only 40 bags of maize.
“The scene of the accident was visited by Mukono traffic officers, who later identified that the motor vehicle was reported missing and blacklisted in the system from Mityana,” he said. A flying squad unit team was dispatched to Mityana and the neighbourhoods to start tracing for the thugs where it was discovered by the community members that the same track had sold some maize to one of the area businessmen, who was inevitably arrested and the maize discovered in his store.”
He explains that upon interrogation, the businessman revealed the people who had sold him the maize. A search was conducted in their homes and several items of evidential value were recovered. The suspects confessed to multiple robberies and further led the team of investigators to scene reconstruction, which was consistently done to validate their criminal acts, Twine said.
According to the police, on March 8th, 2022, the suspects staged another robbery along the Mityana-Kampala road where they intercepted a truck registered number UBH 231E loaded with 95 bags of maize. They severally stabbed the occupants of the truck, including Alex Isabilye and Christopher Wako, and dumped them behind the cabin before they drove off and abandoned them in the bush.
The vehicle was found the next day along Busunju Road. On January 20th, 2022, using a similar method, the suspects robbed a canter truck registered number UBK522S that was loaded with 68 bags of maize. They assaulted the truck driver, David Njaana Muhereza, and his turn man, Kenneth Tumwesigye, and left them for dead. The thugs took off with their phones and money.
Police have cautioned motorists and business people to desist from travelling late at night transporting produce, which creates opportunities for criminals. “Business people should not buy products from people that seem not to be known. Lodge owners and their managers are instructed to strictly profile all their clients and report any person they suspect may be planning or already involved in any criminal activity to the nearby police station, “Twine said.”
CID records indicate that some of the suspects had earlier been charged in court and either served and completed their sentences or jumped bail. Twine noted that “we will engage the court and meticulously reveal the character of these criminal gangs and the extent to which they are a danger to society, and probably request an expeditious hearing of their cases,” Twine noted.