At least 19 cases of kidnaps have been recorded across the country over the last eight weeks. This, according to a report by the Criminal Investigations Department represents a 150 per cent increase in kidnaps compared to the eight cases recorded in the first six weeks of the year.
Two victims died in the hands of their captors while two others are still recorded as missing. Those missing include Sarah Salaama from Arua and Suleiman Katambala from Bujuuko. The others were either rescued by security agencies or willfully released by their kidnappers.
What influences these kidnaps
Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga says that ransom and the need to obtain money by false pretence are the key driving factors. He explains that a few other cases involve people seeking sympathy from family members and lovers.
The report cites at least five kidnaps where victims were released by their kidnappers after ransom was paid.
They include the April 2, kidnap of US tourist Kimberly Sue Endecott and Ugandan tour guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The others were Ronald Nuwagaba and Dan Tweheyo, all residents of Kihihi Town Council in Kanungu District who were kidnapped on April 22 and released on April 24, and David Kiyingi a resident of Zirobwe who went missing on April 16.
“Some people have been kidnapped with the intention of getting a ransom. For example, Kimberly and Mirenge were released after USD 30,000 (Shs113, 179, 500) was paid. Nuwagaba and Tweheyo were released after paying a ransom of Shs3.5 million while Kiyingi was allegedly released after a ransom of Shs1.8 million was paid,” reads CID report.
Police said that in some cases, relatives rush to register a person as missing without taking time to consult their networks.
This argument is advanced by the reported kidnap of Maria Nabayunga, a Laboratory Technologist at Nsambya hospital who resurfaced two days later claiming that she had been kidnapped. However, Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, Patrick Onyango said that Nabayunga was never kidnapped.
“Ms Maria Nabayunga was not kidnapped. She had her own problems, which the family and Police are handling. We want to thank everyone who contributed in one way or another during the search for her,” Onyango said.
A similar disappearance case that was perhaps rushed was that of Simon Clara Akuol, a South Sudanese lawyer who was reported missing at Kajjansi, but was later found with her boyfriend.
Besides the cases where false alerts were made and those where freedom was gained after paying the ransom, there are several cases where victims were killed before relatives paid the ransom or even after they had paid to kidnappers.
They include among others, Jonathan Ssempereza, 6, whose throat was slit and the body dumped in Kireka Market. The other is Gift Akech from Kasokoso, Nakawa division, whose body was piled in a sack and dumped in a water channel, Gideon Kasirye from Kasanje High in Wakiso who was found strangled and dumped in a forest and Oscar Muhairwe from Isingiro who was buried after the kidnaper received Shs250,000 from his relatives.
The 27 cases registered in the last four months are half of the cases recorded in the same period in 2018. Asked on what is being done to curb soaring kidnap cases, Mr Enanga said police is almost on top of the game after more than 21 suspects have been arrested and charged.
Some of the suspects cited by the Police include; Mathias Kananura, Yoweri Mugabo, Hakim Tumwebaze, Denis Kyarisiima, Adam Imaniraguha, and others still at large allegedly on August 3, 2018, robbed Sauda Nassolo of her Shs3 million at Nyamenje in Queen Elizabeth National Park.
The five join three others Onesmus Byaruhanga, James Hatangimana and Joram Akankwasa who were recently charged with kidnap and robbery of Shs20 million from one Jamilla Turyahebwa.
Police say some two suspects who reportedly connived with Onesimus Byaruhanga to kidnap Kimberly and Mirenge were arrested in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mr Enanga said Kanungu kidnap masterminds have been targeting business people from Nakasongola District who transport fish to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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