The nation or at least parts of it that still respect the law, are still in shock. It was unthinkable that soldiers attached to the External Security Organisation (ESO), could deny members of the Commission of Inquiry into Land Matters access to a piece of land in Mutungo, which is subject of a dispute and an investigation.
There are those who will argue that at his rank, Cpl Julius Katuriba would not know much about matters of protocol and that he can, therefore, be forgiven for disrespecting the judge or refusing to listen to Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander, Mr Moses Kafeero. A lousy excuse I would say.
Others will say “he was obeying orders”, which is an old excuse for primitive conduct. Indiscipline among members of security forces have always hidden behind “orders from above” to misbehave like Cpl Katuriba did on Tuesday. We must not allow this to continue.
ESO and the leadership of the army must move to check such acts of lawlessness by subjecting Cpl Katuriba to disciplinary proceedings.
Cpl Katuriba must explain his actions. If he claims that he was acting on ‘orders from above’, he should tell who issued the orders.
He and the person who issued the orders should be severely punished.
President Museveni and the ruling NRM have always prided themselves in having instilled discipline in the army. That record has of late come under scrutiny as soldiers have been accused of torturing citizens in parts of the country.
In November 2017, two civilians were brutally assaulted by soldiers who were guarding a 10,000 piece of land in Nwoya District.
In September last year, indiscipline and brutality on the part of the UPDF was the subject of a parliamentary debate following complaints by fishing communities that they were being harassed by UPDF soldiers. Last December, some residents of Nansana Municipality in Wakiso District accused UPDF soldiers of harassment and torture.
All those cases have never been investigated. The perpetrators have never been brought to book. This is fuelling impunity.
It is in part because people like Cpl Katuriba are engaging in acts of gross indiscipline. After all, nothing ever happens to those who shame the uniform or the image of the institution.
There is need for those cases to be investigated. Those found culpable must be severely punished to send a strong message to the rest. That is where the fight against indiscipline in the armed forces will be won or lost.