The police in Kampala has raised a red flag over the emergence of criminal gangs using children to attack victims. Although Kampala has had a series of criminals victimizing pedestrians, riders and drivers, change in the methods of operation of the gangs known as Egaali and Dog Tulumbe are giving security personnel sleepless nights.
According to security, both gangs move in a group of 15 to 20 people especially when they are conducting their ‘missions’ in slums during daytime or during rush hours.
These multiply their numbers when they are targeting revelers going or returning from events that attract mammoth crowds like music concerts organized in areas of Lugogo, Hotel Africana, and Freedom City.
Namale Kiwanuka, reported a case at Kabalagala police station about two months ago, after she fell into the gang at midday at an access route not far from the police station.
Kiwanuka said when she saw a group of about 20 boys aged about 10 years ahead of her, she thought they were perhaps going for a football match not until when all her belongings were snatched within seconds.
“I tried to bypass them but they suddenly encircled me. Within seconds I was on the ground and they had also disappeared. I lost my bag with the money I had just withdrawn and my phone which I had held for less than two months,” Kiwanuka said.
In WhatsApp groups of residents in Kabalagala, Bunga, Ggaba, Konge, Lukuli, and Nsambya including those of university students within the same areas, members keep alerting colleagues where they have been robbed or where the suspected gangs have been sighted.
Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga explained that criminal gangs have built bases in areas of Katale zone, Nsambya Kevina, and other nearby villages or slums which fall under Kabalagala and Katwe policing divisions.
Enanga said the leaders of these gangs brief their members before 7 pm and they deploy them with targets to achieve. Intelligence teams from Kabalagala and Katwe have so far arrested four suspected gang leaders who include Richard Atuhaire, Shukula Kabengana, Richard Tumwesigye, and John Ahimbise.
Dog Tulumbe has been majorly deploying thugs snatching phones at Jinja road, Kampala road, Jinja road junction, Mukwano road, Nsambya traffic lights, and Buganda road which are just a stone throw from the major police stations like Kampala Central Police Station (CPS).
Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson said they have conducted clandestine operations in the last two days in which over 70 suspects have been arrested around Kampala road, Jinja road, Mukwano road, Railway line behind the Electoral Commission, and other dark spots.
Because of security that is always heightened at premises of music shows and other leisure activities, Egaali and Dog Tulumbe now waylay revelers who are walking back home or those who have to walk a distance in order to reach the next taxi stage.
Enanga said 16 members of the group that has been snatching valuables from people near CPS have been arrested. Enanga added that gangs include those using motorcycles who snatch wallets and mobile phones from pedestrians, passengers on motorcycles, and including occupants in cars.
So far, two suspected ringleaders of the team Jonathan Lugya and James Kato have been arrested while one of their ‘specialized’ commanders identified as Mande who is said to be a resident of Naluvule disappeared.
Whenever one group is frustrated or dismantled through security operations, another emerges with new members or the survivors of the security raids metamorphose into a new one.
Kampala has had gangs like B13 based in Mengo, Kifeesi based at Nakivubo channel, Kasolo boys based in Ndeeba, Kawenja who pretend to be scrap collectors, Kasumuluzo who specialized in house and shop break-ins with master keys, and Kawaida who are known for motor vehicle vandalism.