An interesting small story has been making its way through the radio news channels this week. It involves a meal of posho (pap, ugali), 150,000 shillings and the escape of 10 gun trafficking suspects in Soroti.
Here’s a short chronology.
Friday September 5th
A criminal suspect flees from his sick bed in Soroti Hospital. The policemen on duty say he asked for permission to go to the toilet and didn’t return. Three police officers are arrested in connection with the hospital escape.
Saturday September 6th
Several loud gunshots ring out shortly after 11 p.m., scaring residents of Soroti town.
Sunday September 7th
A 12-year-old girl is reported dead. She was hit by a stray bullet fired by a policeman attached to Soroti Central Police Station.
The Soroti District Police Commander, Sam Musisi announces that 10 men escaped from the police cells the previous night. He is tightlipped about how they escaped and refuses to release the names of the suspects.
13 police officers, including the senior district traffic officer Suleiman Ssemisembwa, are arrested in connection with the prison escape and the killing of the little girl.
Monday September 8th
Four of the escaped suspects are rearrested at different locations in and around Soroti town. A fifth suspect surrenders voluntarily to the police.
In the neighboring Kaberamaido district, a sixth suspect whose name was withheld by the authorities, returned to his home briefly. The UPDF Sector Commander, Major Alfred Opio, says that after bidding his family goodbye, the suspect surrendered to the army detach closest to his home.
DPC Sam Musisi discloses that the suspects were arrested in “Operation Hope”, a disarmament campaign recently launched in the Teso sub-region.
Tuesday September 9th
Sources at Soroti Central Police Station reveal that the escapees used a master key to open their cell door. They claim the key was smuggled into the cells in a hot meal of posho and beans.
Wednesday September 10th
Junior police detective, Corporal Kaptire, is dismissed from the force by a police disciplinary committee for aiding the escape of the 10 suspects on Saturday night.
Corporal Kaptire admitted to receiving a bribe of 150,000 shillings from a primary school teacher called Cecelia Achiro. Achiro’s brother, Aisu, was one of those in police detention for possession of illegal fire arms.
Apparently Achiro bribed Corporal Kaptire to give her the key to the cells for a few hours. She made a soap imprint of the cell key, which she took it for duplication at a blacksmiths workshop. Achiro then made a meal of posho, placed the key inside it, and took the food to her brother in jail.
Later that night Aisu used the key to open the cell doors and escaped into the night.
Corporal Kaptire is to be charged with aiding and abetting a crime, abuse of office and bribery.
Two of the suspects remain at large
And you thought our ka-country wasn’t exciting.
Apparently prison escapes in Uganda are quite frequent. Here’s a short run down of a few cases dating back to January 1, 2007.
August 5, 2008
13 suspects, all accused of capital offenses, last night escaped from the Gulu Central Police Station cells. Johnson Kilama, the Northern Uganda Regional Police Commander, said the suspects used a sharp object to cut through the iron bars on the window of the cells.
July 14, 2008
Six students who were arrested in connection with school fires in Gulu escape from the Gulu Central Police Station Cells. They broke through broke the ventilation above the cell windows and squeezed their way out.
October 12, 2007
20 men escape from the Kabale Central Police Station cells. The District Police Commander Sam Odeke said the suspects drilled a hole through an old wall in the police cells using a piece of metal that was smuggled into the cells. He said the escape was easy because the police building, which was constructed with burned bricks, mud and wattle by the British colonial government more than 50 years ago, is highly dilapidated.
March 26, 2007
Eight policemen attached to Kiira Road Police Station in Kampala are arrested for allegedly aiding the escape of 14 suspects from custody. The suspects took advantage of the weekly electricity load shedding to escape. Three of the suspects were re-arrested a day later in downtown Kampala.
January 22, 2007
A woman, sentenced to three years in prison for committing abortion, escaped from Hoima government prison three days after she was jailed. The woman, Irene Nyamaizi, fled from the prison while she was being escorted to ease herself in an external pit latrine.
According to police records, the largest prison break in Uganda took place on February 24, 2006 when 400 prisoners escaped from Arua Main Prison. The prisoners took advantage of the announcement of the presidential results to break through the doors to their cells and escape. To date only about 50 of the 400 suspects have been re-arrested.
See, this is why I don’t need a TV to watch programs like Prison Break. I am thoroughly entertained just listening to radio news.