The tale of a theft on Jinja road
Friday 13th July evening, on my way home from Uganda Management Institute (UMI) at about 6:30pm or 7:00pm in the evening, I was thugged. I would like to share my story with you. Maybe in future, someone may remember what happened to me, and prevent it from happening to him or her.
I came out of UMI in the evening after a discussion with a couple of friends and I was headed to Mukono. I stood at the taxi stage next to the entrance of UMI and waited for a taxi for about 15 minutes but none was coming. As I was about to cross the road and take a taxi to the park so that I board from there, a half full taxi came by and parked slightly after the stage, avoiding where many people were standing. Had I been security conscious, I would have recognized that as the first sign of something not right and resisted the urge to board that taxi but being in a bit of a hurry, I waved it to stop and quickly boarded it. The conductor had locked the passenger door and told me (with a lot of urgency in his voice) to sit in front. There was already a person occupying that seat, so I beckoned him to extend and I sit, which he willingly did. I then exchanged pleasantries with that guy and the driver and sat down, relieved to have gotten a taxi. There were about 6 youths, all looking to be in their mid-20’s.
As soon as we had set off, the driver asked me to help him correct the positioning of the side-mirror on my side. I leaned forward to do the needful, which he politely told me I was doing the wrong way. The other passenger in the front seat also leaned forward to help me correct the mirror, but little did I know that instead, he was helping the driver by providing a screen for him, through which I wouldn’t feel or see what that driver was doing behind my back. The driver successfully managed to pull out my wallet and one of my phones. The driver then slowed down the speed of the taxi, and pushed me out of the vehicle with the help of that other passenger in the driver’s seat and sped off. It took me only a few seconds to realize that I had been stolen but by the time I tried to trace that vehicle, I got a glimpse of it as it maneuvered into other vehicles and disappeared from my view. This took place close to the police station on Jinja Road, so the first thing my instinct told me was to report the robbery to the police (primarily because the stolen wallet had my identity card in it) which I did before calling a friend of mine (using my second phone which had survived the theft) who came to my rescue.
It is on a daily basis that I read such stories in the newspapers or on Facebook and twitter but I never realized that it can happen to me. The harsh reality hit me only when I realized my pockets were empty.
These cases of theft happen frequently but most of them don’t get reported to the police and media. The more annoying bit is that some of these theft cases are conducted by the security officers who misuse their weapons and fighting tactics to earn more money using unethical, immoral and barbaric means. See http://www.in2eastafrica.net/uganda-private-guards-lead-security-personnel-in-crime/ for more details about this.
Some thieves have even gone ahead to insert needles in their arms and when you shake their hands, they inject you with a sedative which knocks you out and they rob you clean. See http://www.weinformers.net/2012/07/05/beware-of-thieves-using-needles-to-sedate-their-victims/
In order to prevent (or even stop) them, more vigilance has to be undertaken by both the police and us. By us, I mean that had I taken safety precautions before boarding that taxi, or even gotten the whole number plate of that vehicle and given it to the police, tracking those thieves would have been much easier. If the police would apprehend some of these men on a daily basis, and give them strict punishments, the rest would be deterred from committing the same act. Ofcourse, many of these crimes occur due to high levels of unemployment and the search for more money, which doesn’t seem to appear easily. That shouldn’t justify this barbaric act though.
If we also were able to share the stories of how we have been robbed, then those who haven’t been robbed before might be able to read the signs that a theft is about to happen and probably save their property before it can be stolen.
The Central gov’t needs to have a very big input in controlling this by implementing policies that will increase our security, reduce the high levels of unemployment and probably Cost Of Living too. This high level of unemployment has caused very many people to seek alternate ways of earning money because they have to spend yet they can’t afford to buy anything. More measures should be taken by the responsible authorities to curb these tendencies. My friend, Muhame Giles, tells me how cameras planted on the streets of Rwanda have helped reduce the high crime rate there. Atleast this would make the would-be thieves afraid to be caught on video.
It will take a joint effort by us (the citizens), police, KCCA, Local Council Authorities et al to ensure we are well guarded. Let’s be careful when in the company of people we don’t know and ensure both our property and lives are safe before we make ourselves ‘feel at home’.
@jobaze (on twitter)
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