Three drums of illicit alcohol valued at 3.5 million shillings have been recovered from the residence of a police officer in Lotisan sub-county in Moroto district. Angry residents stormed the home of Kalindo Ogwang, who works at Kidepo Police outpost, shortly after he arrested two people who had just bought the illicit alcohol worth Sh3000 from him.
He reportedly accused the duo of buying illicit alcohol, leading to a scuffle that attracted crowds. According to the locals, the officer removed the shoes from his customers and dragged them to the station despite the fact that he was the one who sold them the alcohol.
John Robert Adupa, the LC 3 chairperson of Lotisan sub-county, says the police officer, together with his wife, has been trading in illicit waragi for a long time in their rented room in Kidepo trading center. He alleged that the officer could lure the community to buy their waragi, but since he knew it was illegal, he would turn around and threaten them and take back the waragi.
“The waragi is sold to a customer, but later the police officer follows them and returns it back to the source to be sold to another customer, and the money is never returned,” he said. Adupa noted that the officer immediately disappeared from the scene on realising that the fracas was attracting crowds who intervened in the matter.
According to information by URN, one drum containing twelve 20-liter Jerricans of waragi was found in the rented room of the police officer. Two other drums of the same size were seized from another room belonging to his friend, and 28 Jerricans full of gin were found in the neighborhood. The occupants of the homes escaped, prompting the locals to break their doors and seize the waragi, which was later taken to Moroto central police station.
Emmanuel Loiki, the Rupa sub-county LC V councilor, told URN at the scene that the women who were in the house where the waragi was kept escaped through the police station and the community thought police would help to intercept the suspects in vain.
Loiki said they later realised that the two women were spouses of police officers and were trading in the crude waragi under the protection of their husbands. Francis Lomer, a resident of Mogoth parish in Lotisan sub-county, says that they had a community meeting chaired by the chairman LC1 to discuss how best waragi can be regulated after it killed over 12 people within three months.
Lomer said it was agreed that the crude waragi should not be banned, but they should instead regulate the consumption so that it generates money for police and the local area leaders.
Micheal Longole, the Mt. Moroto regional police spokesperson, says that findings indicate that the waragi business belonged to the girlfriend of the police officer who is currently at large. Longole said they are going to investigate to establish if the police officer was aware that his girlfriend was involved in the sale of illegal crude waragi.
Vinjinia Namazi, the in-charge of St. Pius Kidepo health III in Lotisan sub-county, told URN that the health facility is overwhelmed with patients suffering from malnutrition resulting from high consumption of waragi without food.
Namazi said they have lost quite a number of people to waragi, but unfortunately, the community seems not to be scared of what is killing them. She revealed that they have tried their best to sensitise the community about the dangers of waragi, but the community has failed to listen.
According to a police report, they recorded 2254 crimes committed while intoxicated between July and December of last year. The figures gradually decreased by 140 between January and June this year across the region. Police say crimes such as assault, homicide, sexual offenses, house break-ins, and shoplifting are committed by offenders who have consumed more alcohol.
Francis Chemusto, the Mt. Moroto Regional Police Commander, says the crime analysis from the months of July 2021 and June 2022 indicated some reduction of cases by 140 out of 2254, which he described as a great achievement.
Chemusto said their study found out that the type of alcohol consumed by the Karamojong has changed from the local brews known as kwete, Abutia, and Malwa to the crude waragi majorly imported from the districts outside the region.