The steep rise in the number and audacity of daredevil Kampala city petty thieves has attracted the concern of MPs, who now demand urgent government action.
MP Thomas Tayebwa (NRM, Ruhinda North County) kicked off the debate during plenary on Wednesday, 2 October 2019 with a narration of his ordeal with thieves, who at a traffic build-up in Wandegeya, a city suburb, struggled to open his car door to pick his valuables.
When they failed, said Tayebwa, they tried their luck on a hapless lady in front of him, whose car door they opened and consequently snatched her bag.
“They have targeted [road] intersections and cars in the traffic jam; someone tried to break into my car in Wandegeya opposite a police station in the city centre,” said Tayebwa.
Internal Affairs State Minister, Mario Obiga Kania, condemned the practice, but earned the wrath of MPs when he suggested that in the heat of the day-light robbery in clogged traffic, MPs and affected members of the public should report to Police.
“Those are unfortunate incidences and when such things happen, it would be good to report to the police station; even if it happens opposite a police station, it does not mean that we have people all around the area,” he said.
MPs were angered by the remarks, accusing the Minister and the Police, which he supervises, for negligence and complicity.
“You are in traffic jam where you cannot move and they pounce on you, what do you do? We want solutions, what do we do about it?” asked Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who chaired the plenary.
Kadaga advised Minister Obiga Kania to gather information from MPs, which she said should inform a comprehensive statement to the House on steps taken to end the practice.
MP Agnes Kunihira (NRM, Workers) is also a victim of the daring attacks, which mostly happen in traffic jams, day or night.
MP Moses Kasibante (IND, Rubaga Division North) said there are known hotspots in Kampala where the criminals reign supreme, but the Police, he said, ignores such areas and fail to deploy covert officers, which he said is neglectful.
To MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire, it is an indictment on the failure of the highly billed CCTV cameras installed around the city and its outskirts, with the aim of ending the criminality.
“Let us assemble the information, let us give it to the Minister and let him come with a statement,” ruled Speaker Kadaga, putting the matter to rest.