Our struggle so far: a crime preventer’s diary

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Uganda crime preventers

Part I: I would like to begin with a quote from a 19th century revolutionary Ernesto Che Guevara, the author of “Motorcycle Diaries”, “If you tremble with indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine.”

In this first part of “Our Struggle So Far……” I will elaborate the background to the formation of National Crime Preventers Forum, I will specifically deal with my personal beliefs at the time when the idea was borne and the inspiration behind it like the quote above puts it.

I will also briefly tell my personal experience or story that many of you do not know.

In the wake of 2014 as a law student and Chairperson NRM Makerere University Chapter, I was incensed by the rising crimes in and around the campus especially against female students.

Girls were being raped and murdered in cold blood and despite police efforts, the situation seemed far from being normal.

The student community seemed to be hostile against the police given the history they had had in the past.

There was a common song among the students that went “Police…our murderers……” and obscene words would follow in the verse.

This song was a show of dissatisfaction among the students with police handling of Student issues.

I was also concerned that this trend would be disastrous, girls will continue being victims of rape and even murder, and other crimes. something needed to be done and with immediate effect.

I decided to look for like-minded students with whom I shared my idea of organizing a sensitization training on self defense skills especially for girls, detection and prevention of crime among the general student population.

We successfully organised the first training and education on crimes within campus that had an attendance record participation of 700 (400 male, 300 female) students at the time of the pass out.

In organizing the training and education, police would automatically be our partners since this was within their functions as an institution.

We took advantage of the Constitutional provision under article 212 (d) that gave a lee way to police to cooperate with the civilian authority and the general population in protecting lives and property.

My intention was to establish a lasting, working and cooperative relationship between the Uganda Police and Makerere University students that were hostile then.

For this to be achieved, we had to engage the police top leadership and that was the first encounter I had with Gen Kale Kayihura.

Blaise Kamugisha

During the closure of the one week training that included, assembling guns, self defense skills such as martial arts, among others, the Inspector General of Police Gen Kale Kayihura commended the participants for sacrificing their time to participate in the program amidst cheers. I had never felt so proud.

Roy T Bunnet was surely not far from being right when he stated “You never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

We had sacrificed our time, academics and the meager resource in our possession to make the even happen. We stepped out of our comfort zone. The first and the last thing we needed was appreciation. For us it was just the beginning.

In his address noted that our program if rolled throughout the country would help prevent crimes with more people acquiring such skills. He was impressed, I had initially known him to be a difficult man to impress.

He further explained that through such programmes the relationship between the police force and the citizens would be improved and help fight crimes.

These statements were motivational, to me he was speaking what I had in mind the only difference was, his idea was for the whole country.

I wanted to be part of this bigger idea and that marked the beginning of our continuous engagements that gave birth to the National Crime Preventers Forum.

In part II, I will indulge you further on the background and the events leading to formation of national crime preventers forum.

Blaise Kamugisha, the author, is the National Coordinator of the National Crime Preventers’ Forum – NCPF.