BUSIA, UGANDA: Residents of Busia District have been thrown into panic following reports that panga-wielding thugs have hit the district, a week after they seem to have fled from the Masaka region.
One victim of the deadly gang has been identified as Kenneth Ouma, a fish trader and resident of Sirakano Village in Masaba Sub-county who sustained wounds and a broken jawbone after the assailants waylaid him before fleeing with his motorcycle and fish worth Shs1m.
The victim told local newspaper DailyMonitor over the weekend that last Wednesday night at about 7pm, he was attacked by the assailants in Nambwekwe while on his way from Lubango Landing Site in Mutumba Sub-county, Namayingo District, as he drove towards the Busia Main Market where he had to deliver his fish.
“One man who was wielding a machete cut me on the head and as I fell down, two of his accomplices hit me using iron bars before riding away with my motorcycle plus the fish,” Ouma narrated in fear.
He added that he was only saved by a good samaritan who took him to Dabani Hospital and later to Kenya where he was diagnosed with a broken jawbone.
“If I did not have my helmet on, I would be dead,” the victim, who lost most of his teeth and is feeding largely on juice, said.
Ouma’s narrative strikes a chord with the killings that have plagued Masaka City in the recent past and left scores dead. Advertisement
But in Busia, the areas that are susceptible to have these types of gangs include Sofia, Mawero East ‘B’ village in Eastern Division and Solo in Western Division, all in Busia Municipality.
Mr Julius Emoit, the former council speaker for Busia Municipality also narrated how panga-wielding thugs recently attacked and robbed him of all his money while he was coming from Kenya through Sofia Village in Busia Town.
According to Mr Emoit, four youthful-looking males wearing long coats and facemasks cornered him around the Eastern Division offices demanding money, but when he only forfeited Shs400,000 of the Shs560,000 he had in his wallet, the gang allegedly pulled out machetes.
“I had to surrender all the money to escape being hacked by thugs who later fled,” Mr Emoit added.
While Mr Emoit escaped unharmed, Mr Sam Kakala, a resident of Mawero ‘B’ village in Busia Town, is still nursing injuries he reportedly sustained last month after he was attacked at his home by machete-wielding thugs at night.
According to Mr Kakala, on that fateful day, he responded to a distress call at around 2am, but was instead hacked by a man armed with a machete. He, however, says he managed to wrestle down his assailant who was eventually lynched.
On June 19, two machete-wielding thugs entered the Vedit Executive Hotel Bar and Lodge in Sofia ‘A’ Village, Busia Town and killed the security guard.
CCTV footage, when later retrieved and reviewed by police, showed a man armed with a machete attacking and fatally hacking the guard before he was joined by an accomplice and later fleed with their victim’s gun.
Mr Yusuf Nadoya, the area defence secretary, said the attackers found the guard sleeping and after killing him, they took his gun which would later be discovered in Magero East ‘B’ following a frantic search by the police.
“The slaying of the guard was the second attack by thugs on Vedit Bar and Lodge, having killed one of the maids the previous month,” Mr Nadoya said.
Mr Jimmy Okoth Kipoke, the area chairperson, said security was quickly deteriorating and attacks against innocent residents by armed groups was on the increase.
“As I speak now (on Saturday), a man, suspected to be a Kenyan national, was killed in one of the bars the previous (Friday) night, and we have information that a police officer lost a gun in the same area, so we are so worried,” Mr Okoth said.
Mr Moses Mugwe, the Bukedi region police spokesperson, said he was aware of the attacks, but downplayed the situation, saying police had everything under control.
“We had some attacks in June and July, but as we speak, those attacks have declined because we arrested the suspects who were behind them,” Mr Mugwe said.
But while the police say they have the (security) situation under control, 53-year-old James Were was on August 29 found murdered in his house in Nakoola Village, Sikuda Sub-county.
His brother, Mr Michael Wanyama, said the deceased’s body was found on the floor of his house with severe injuries on the head, suggestive that his killers used a blunt object to execute the murder.