President Yoweri Museveni is calling on police to take decisive action to end the problem of cattle rustling after the country reported a surge in incidents in the east of the country.
On Wednesday, the President met with Security chiefs including senior army officers, police, resident district commissioners, Internal Security Organization officials and Uganda Wildlife Authority officials on the security situation in Karamoja, which has affected neighboring regions of Teso, Bugisu, Sebei and has spilled over into Kenya.
He instructed the security chiefs in Bugisu, Sebei and Teso to target illegal weapons, saying this could be the permanent solution to put an end to the vice.
“That Gun problem in Kenya and South Sudan shouldn’t worry us. The problem is internal. Because if you try to connect our internal security problem with what is happening in neighboring countries, we will never have peace,” President Museveni said.
Cattle theft is rife in the region touching Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan, where illegal arms are exchanged and easily cross porous borders. But the Ugandan leader says the rustling persists because security agencies and local communities have refused to cooperate.
He said good police could help end cattle rustling, citing examples from the West -Nile region and most of Kenya.
“The communities there do not support the practice of ransacking livestock. The areas are also better patrolled,” he argued.
The recent rustling incidents have left a trail of death, rape and destruction, threatening the prevailing peace and security.
“Cattle theft is now commercial. When people steal cows, they want to sell them for slaughter. There aren’t many roads here; Set up roadblocks so they can be intercepted,” he said.
He added that with rising crime, including murder and rape, there is a need for police to establish units per subdistrict.< p>“Even without enough staff, we can solve this problem. The larger the workforce, the higher the labor costs. We can’t build roads and other infrastructure when we’re dealing with cattle thieves,” he said.
Read:Muhoozi threatens hell with Karamoja thieves
According to UPDF commander Brigadier General Joseph Balikuddembe, who is leading the war against rustlers in the region, armed Ugandan rustlers are invading Kenya and South Sudan and unleashing counterattacks.
Balikuddembe gave an example of this to criminals Elements from Uganda such as the Jie of Kotido, the Dodoth of Kaabong, who usually cross over to Kenya, particularly the Nakitong’o areas of Turkana West Sub-County and Orumu, often raiding cows.
“The Turkana carry revenge attacks, the number of times our people have crossed to raid. Otherwise, if our people don’t go over to raid, the Turkana won’t raid us. The problem starts with our people here, who ambush each other and then cross over to the other side,” he said.
He added that since May 16, the army has stolen 83 and hundreds of weapons from arrested thieves cattle rustlers have been killed or arrested.
Security officials, along with local leaders, have conducted a disarmament drill in the area to clear them of weapons with the help of local leaders. Some incidents are reportedly voluntary, while most of them were coerced.
Some youth in the area are beginning to flee to safer parts of the country.