On Monday, December 18, 2023, at around 12:30 pm, Paddy Sserunjogi alias Sobi, a popular and notorious leader of the criminal city gang dubbed Kifeesi met his untimely death when a group of approximately 50 individuals armed with sticks, pangas, and spears descended upon him while manning a disputed piece of land owned by Kalisa in Kibaale village, Maddu Subcounty in Gomba District.
It is alleged that the assailants clashed with another group saying their claim to the same land, resulting in a violent confrontation that claimed the life of Sobi.
Who is Sobi?
Sobi, a notorious figure whose criminal exploits had once plunged the city into chaos gained notoriety in 2017 as the self-proclaimed leader of Kifeesi, a criminal gang that unleashed a wave of deadly robberies, leaving numerous casualties in its wake.
According to the police, Sobi’s gang conducted a range of criminal activities including petty theft, robbery and murder in the Kampala central business district and the city suburbs.
While many members of his alleged gang were arrested and convicted for crimes they committed, Sobi was always released on bail whenever they arrested and took him to court.
Until his arrest and remand in 2012, it was a cat-and-mouse chase between police and Sobi that lasted more than three years, with the then Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, Iddi Ibin Ssenkumbi alleging that Sobi was offered preferential treatment by the magistrates at Buganda Road Court.
Police Informant turned rogue
According to police intelligence records, Sobi was a one-time police informer who turned rogue and became the leader of a group of petty criminals who snatched bags and phones on Kampala streets and concerts.
“He organised people to snatch bags and phones, especially at concerts and after was cited in robberies, especially of Chinese shops and forex bureaus,” the then Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson said earlier.
At the end of 2010, Sobi was arrested and charged at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court with theft, he was remanded for a day before being granted bail.
Less than a month later, Sobi was again arrested and new charges were preferred against him. The State argued that Sobi should not be granted bail because the last time he was released on bail he allegedly committed a crime.
However, the presiding magistrate granted Sobi bail again.
String of Forex bureau robberies
Sobi was the hand in many of the robberies of city forex bureaus. The robbery of Llyod Forex Bureau was one of the most brazen and dramatic robberies in the history of Kampala to date. Traders and boda boda cyclists on Luwum Street still talk about the ‘Sobi robbery’ at Llyod Forex Bureau.
A seven-man armed gang, allegedly led by Sobi, stormed the forex bureau and robbed large amounts of money. However, police arrived before they had fled the crime scene.
Jim Kato, a boda boda cyclist who witnessed the robbery, says the thugs ran into the streets and deliberately dispersed an unspecified amount of money on the road and pavements before getting into a car and fleeing. People scampered to collect the money and unwittingly blocked the road, foiling police pursuit of the thugs.
“All the passersby and boda boda cyclists got on the road to pick the falling notes and it was only after they had taken off that we realised that in picking the money we had blocked the police from pursuing them,” the witnessed narrated.
On April 23, 2012, Sobi, a bodybuilder, allegedly led a gang that raided Spot Cash Forex Bureau at Arua Park in Kampala and robbed about Shs120 million. The thugs shot and killed 27-year-old Agnes Bireru during the robbery.
The last robbery he is accused of committing before his arrest in 2012 and remand was carried out in a forex bureau at Majestic Plaza. The thugs reportedly stole Shs90 million.
Based on information from the police crime intelligence department, officers at the Kampala Central Police Station launched an operation on William Street near Katumwa Sports Centre to arrest Sobi after he had reportedly gone into hiding.
A police team headed by the then officer in charge of the Central Police Station sighted Sobi standing near DFCU Bank and arrested him.
The police officers searched the surrounding areas for his alleged gang members. One suspect, Ivan Mugerwa, was arrested on top of a building with a gun.
Then Kampala Central Police Station Commander, Mr James Ruhweza, said Sobi had on several occasions evaded arrest because he had a sophisticated network of informants who would tip him off whenever police approached his hideout.
Mr Ruhweza said the suspects might have been targeting a customer in DFCU Bank on William Street at the time of their arrest.
At the time of arrest, Mr Senkumbi said Sobi had 10 fresh charges against him, including murder and robbery, among others.
Sobi once openly told the media that he killed people when he was still a thief. But he was later assimilated into the ISO by former director general Kaka Bagyenda.
In November 2021, he was arrested alongside 28 members of his gang for attempting to raid a village in Wakiso District. Police said he had forcefully fenced off four acres of land in a swamp in Nakuwadde Village near Kireka-Bbira.
His shift from a prominent criminal figure to an informant for the then Director General of the Internal Security Organisation, Col. Kaka Bagyenda, added a layer of complexity to his checkered past.
Despite this shift in allegiance, Sobi’s fate took a dark turn in Kibaale village, Kigumba parish, Maddu Sub-County.
DailyExpress understands that in a bloody shed Monday clash, different items, including food, utensils, and structures, were destroyed with the group of locals alleged to have killed more individuals, although only one body (of Sobi) was recovered with cut wounds on the leg and neck.
Speaking of the incident, Gomba Resident District Commissioner, Ms Harriet Nakamya said Sobi’s group had been hired by Kiweewa, Nabakka and Nagadya to protect the land when the counter-group hired by Kalisa made a fierce attack.
His lifeless body was retrieved and taken to Gomba Hospital mortuary for post-mortem as detectives at Kanoni police station continued with inquiries.
“Officers from Gomba Police responded immediately, restoring order in the area. The deceased’s body has been conveyed to Gomba Hospital Mortuary for postmortem. Currently, there are three confirmed injuries including Katumba Gerald, Mateka Andrew, and Aliyu Dela. Further details will be provided in due course,” SP Majid Karim, the Katonga Region Police Spokesperson said in a Monday statement.
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