The Uganda Police Force is, according to both public opinion and research by accredited institutions, the most corrupt government agency or body in the country. And they have been so for nearly five years in a row. Many Ugandans have resorted to solving their problems without police involvement yet this is the body the common man is ideally supposed to lean on.
At the beginning of this month, a colleague of mine went for early morning shopping in one of the Kampala markets.
As she was bargaining for certain commodities, a thief grabbed her phone from her bag. When the woman noticed a few minutes later that phone was missing, she asked people around if she could report the theft to the police station. Surprisingly, they simply laughed at her, saying some of the officers work with the thieves. They advised her to sit in one of the rooms there and calm down.
The concerned traders told her that they would find out who had taken her phone. Hardly 30 minutes later, they came and told her that they have found her phone snatcher. However, they said the thief wanted Shs50,000 before he could release her phone. After hesitation, she obliged and within a short while, her phone was returned. Many people have been made to believe that the police are their enemy and fear that reporting cases to police is meaningless.
Little wonder that some people no longer accept to be witnesses in the crimes committed even when they were present at the scene of crime. However, there are many good officers who joined the Force with passion; they wake up to go and work with commitment without a corruption mindset.
I dedicate this article to a police officer called Wango for the following reasons:
In January, I reported to the university for my Diploma in Education Primary External (DEPE) course. That very day at night, my phone was stolen. I was psychologically tortured by this because I was meant to go to the bank the following morning to pay tuition so that I could sit exams.
Remember it was the deadline for payment and the money was on that phone. In the morning at about 5am, I called customer care to help me block the lines before I reported the case to police. I found the OC who recorded my statement and gave me a police letter to enable me process the lines. I then asked the officer if they could help me track the phone. He asked me if that wouldn’t be a waste of time.
After I insisted, he said he would connect me to a police officer in charge of tracking after two weeks. I left the police station with that faint hope. I went and processed the lines and bought a small phone of Shs40,000 just as the officer advised me. After the two weeks, I called the officer and he gave me the phone number of the tracking officer.
I called the officer, who asked me to meet him at their barracks. When I reached there, he asked me for the phone receipt and the reference number of the case. He assured me that for as long as that phone was original, he would get it. He asked me for some money to secure a court order so that he could be authorised to start tracking my line. He said he would call me after two weeks, but when I did so as agreed, he told me he needed more two weeks.
Later, he called to tell me that he had identified the suspected thief and who he would arrest any time. After a few days, he called me telling me that the thief had been arrested and I should go for my phone. On reaching the station, guess who the thief was , alas! It is one of my university classmates. I thank Mr Wango and all the police officers who are doing their best amid challenging work conditions.
I also want to advise you to keep your phone receipt and serial numbers as these will useful in future.