LUWERO – On Friday, September 6, a gang operating in Wobulenzi Town Council, Luweero district, kidnapped Amos Matovu, a 7-year-old pupil at Wobulenzi Public Primary School.
The kidnappers hoodwinked the child that they were going to buy him a watch before grabbing him and riding away with him. They then hid him in Ssekamuli village, Bamunanika Sub-county, and sought out his father, Edward Patrick Muwonge’s telephone number.
The assailants, who knew Muwonge, demanded ransom of UGX7m, knowing that he would immediately mobilise the cash to save his child.
However, the child’s father had different plans. He immediately alerted police who began tracing the kidnappers.
Police and Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) tracked the kidnappers using phones that they were using to demand for a ransom and later found the child at the home of Sam Ssempijja, one of the gangsters at Ssekamuli village.
“The police in Luweero alerted the kidnap response centre and the UPDF signal department that quickly located the coordinates where the suspects engaged the parents to have the ransom money delivered for the safety of the victim,” Mr Ahmed Musekana, the Luweero District Police Commander, said.
Luweero District Resident Commissioner Phoebe Namulindwa said the quick response by parents to alert the police when they realized that their child had gone missing, saved the victim who was still in good health at the time of rescue.
“It is surprising that the suspects claim to know the father and that he could easily mobilize for more than Shs20m, but decided to ask for only Shs7m. It is also interesting that even after the arrest of the first three suspects, the fourth suspect identified as Lamula Habiba kept making calls demanding for the money up to the time she was located and rounded up at her rented room in Wapamba Zone, Wobulenzi Town Council,” Ms Namulindwa said.
The suspected gangsters have been identified as David Mutyaba, Ashraf Kakembo, Sam Ssempijja and Habibah Lamulah, all residents of Wobulenzi town council and Bamunanika Sub County, Luweero district. They are part of a gang comprising youths aged between 16 and 18 years, with a base in Wobulenzi town. All members of the gang have green three-star tattoos on their hands as a form of identification.
They face charges of child kidnap and will be produced before Courts of law when investigations are complete.
According to the annual crime report by the police, Kidnaps have been motivated by the demand for ransom, vengeance by lovers, terrorism, extortion or self-gain from relatives and ritual purposes among others.
A total of 202 persons were registered as victims of kidnap in 2018. Of these, 16 victims were killed, 84 victims were rescued by police and 99 among others were self-kidnap whereas three were still missing by the time of releasing the report.