jobaze

Independent opinions

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)
jobaze@gmail.com

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10 Comments

  1. echwaluphotography

    Pole sana! Any one could fall prey of such thugs. Its unfortunate to hear to read what happened to you. Its always advisable to enter a taxi you see women. Most of the time its safe-BUT not entirely all the time.

    But i could understand your rush especially after a long discussion. I just hope and pray that our security does some kind of crack down on unregistered Taxis. There are too many of them!

    Take hear man! Take heart!

    • I took heart when I entered the police station to report my case and realised that there was a woman also reporting an incident also similar to mine. More so, the book where they were recording what we were reporting had many entries dated that very day. I then figured out mine wasn’t the worst, and neither was it the only one. I only hope more effort will be put into internal security because such cases are frequent on our streets. What I can be sure of is that I learnt a lesson and I will always be very careful when in the same condition again

  2. One small comment. The cameras in Kigali DO NOT work yet. Giles should get his facts right. Here it is law enforcement that has helped not technology.

    • What law enforcement techniques have seen Rwanda get a low crime rate? Is it possible for our very own system to adopt them in ensuring our safety? Either way, I still think CCTV cameras on the streets would see the crime rate decrease drastically in areas where the have been placed

  3. Prossy B

    I feel terrible and yet frightened after reading about what happened to you. Yes, we are citizens should be cautious but then the security on our streets should be beefed up. These guys have become bold – such an incident happened to my sis when she grabbed a taxi coming from Ntinda and to this day, she dreads what happened.

    As for the one about needles, I once got the shock of my life when I saw a guy hide a needle under his sleeve then mix in with a throng of people who were going to Nakivubo stadium for some crusade. Two other people who noticed the same thing, exchanged looks with me and then rushed away while I stood wondering who exactly I would report the issue to. This stuff needs to be dealt with.

    • We need to exercise high levels of vigilance wherever we may be. The other problem comes in when we are aware of a danger but not able to report it, just like the case you just reported above. What I would want is the police to get some of these offenders and give them severe punishments that would act as eye openers for the rest of the gang.

      Unless we discuss this problem as citizens of the country and propose ways forward, then the country will be headed into a high crime rate. Many crimes take place on the street but goes unreported to the police. That is why when police statistics say the rate of crime is decreasing, I am not quick to believe them because many people no longer see a reason in reporting to the police. Our safety should surpass any other objective we may have

  4. Tielo

    I prersonally been a victim to this act, unfotunately, my case was a little too dangerous than the one here. I got robbed off of a laptop just by trying help to fix the taxi’s seatbelt as politely asked too in the front sseat. lost the laptop, got thrown out, clinged and swung on the moving taxi, and hit back my head down on the road as I couldnt handle keeping with the speeding car. Security should do a lot bout this.

  5. I havent been a victim to this kind of act but one thing for sure is that it is rampant and the reason people dont report such cases is that they never get help at all instead the ploice will exort money from you all in the name of assisting you to recover your lost properties. For Echwalu’s comment above i totally disagree with him-women lately are highly invloved in theft so becareful on how you tread!

  6. munabuddu

    These thugs played the same exact scheme on a workmate of mine. He was traveling from Ndeeba to Kampala.

  7. my auntie always said to look at the number plates of a vehicle before you board. I thought she was just being an old woman, but lately I have been doing exactly that. It helps you feel safe in a way, and when something like that happens you can make the work of the police easier.

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