WAKISO – On Tuesday afternoon, a bullion van carrying over UGX2 billion, some of it in foreign currency notes, left Stanbic Bank Kayunga Branch being driven by one Michael Okech accompanied by two guards belonging to G4S security firm.
Unknown to the guards, Okech had connived with armed robbers to stage-manage a robbery of the van and make off with the money.
As a result, he kept making stopovers on the way between Kayunga and Mukono, as a way to find the right opportunity for the armed robbers, who were trailing the van, to strike.
Meanwhile, at this time, security agencies, including Police and the Internal Security Organisation, had received intelligence information of a planned armed robbery involving sophisticated weapons. The security agencies then agreed that ISO was better placed to handle the mission due to the involvement of the deadly weapons. ISO then deployed its men along the Kampala-Mukono road and also started surveilling the bullion van
Meanwhile, during the journey, the driver of the van bought drinks and eats laced with chloroform and gave them to the unsuspecting security guards, making them unconscious and immediately fell asleep in the van.
Okech, possibly realizing this was a chance to invite the armed men trailing the van in a small car, began looking for an opportunity to take the money from the van. On one occasion, he attempted to stop the van at Seeta but he was unable because there were too many vehicles since it was evening rush hour.
He then continued moving and when he reached Kyambogo near Megha Industries, he invited the robbers in the small car as they began removing the money. However, the ISO operatives, who were in the area, circled the van and the trailing car bearing the armed men. Gunfire is said to have ensued, leading to the shooting dead of the thugs in the trailing car. Okech is said to have fled with an amount of money from the van believed to have been around UGX700m.
One of the killed thugs was found with an Identity Card bearing the name of Pte Bright Turyatunga attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC).
The SFC spokesperson, Maj Jimmy Omara, when contacted, revealed that Pte Turyatunga deserted SFC in 2012. Maj Omara added that Pte Turyatunga had been on several occasions arrested by police and prosecuted for participating in highway robberies.
“We cannot deny that he was our officer. He deserted us in 2012 and we later learnt he had been arrested by police and convicted to four years over highway robberies. After serving his jail term, he was released but he again conducted another robbery in which one person was killed along Masaka Road,” Maj Omara said.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga, in a statement, said they are hunting for the driver of the bullion van.
“The preliminary information indicates the would-be robbers conspired with the driver Michael Okech, who bought chicken for his two colleagues and laced it with chloroform, to enable them loot the cash uninterrupted. Efforts are in place to put the puzzle together and find answers to what exactly happened. The two security guards who are potential witnesses are also recovering well at Kiruddu Referral Hospital and arrangements to obtain their statements in place,” Mr Enanga said before adding in a statement shared on police social media platforms, that security team recovered several exhibits including cartridges for a pistol and an AK47, a mall phone as well as Okech’s ID.
Bodies of the suspected robbers were taken to the city mortuary for postmortem analysis, according to police.
“The other exhibits of material value which include the bullion van with cash, a gun, and white Premio under registration number UAK790P, were transferred to ISO headquarters. We want to urge the public and in particular those who deal with large cash transactions to remain vigilant and alter their routines. We further appeal to anyone with knowledge about the whereabouts of the driver or the incident to share with us in confidence,” Mr Enanga added