KIRUHURA – Police in Sanga Town council, Kiruhura district have arrested a senior Uganda People’s defense forces (UPDF) officer and one civilian in an operation to crackdown livestock robbers who have been terrorizing the area.
In an operation led by police and local leaders on the weekend, over 23 heads of cattle were recovered and two people including a UPDF officer were arrested.
Samson Kasasira, the Rwizi region police mouthpiece on confirmed the arrest.
He said the recovered cows were found in the farm of CPL Steven Mutyaba in Kasharara cell in Sanga town council.
Mr. Kasasira said that upon arresting Mutyaba, told police that one Steven Nyombe a milk dealer in Sanga has been selling him bulls not knowing that are stolen.
It was revealed that the suspects bought that farm which they have been using as a holding ground for stolen livestock to sell them after pressure from the owners has settled.
These survived being lynched by an angry mob but were saved by police from Sanga police station that arrived on time.
Safari Mugyenyi chairperson LCIII Sanga town council said following intensified operations against cattle thefts, thieves have also changed tactics to evade arrest with the new tactics of buying farms they use as holding grounds for stolen cows.
“This is the third incident in less than a year where thieves and collaborators buy farms and they use them as holding grounds for stolen cattle, they sell these cows after pressure from owners has settled. They can hold these cows for more than a year,” said Mugyenyi.
Alaisha Kobuhwezi who claimed had identified his bull among those cows recovered said it got lost from the farm one and half years ago.
“This cow got lost one and half years ago, it has now grown into a big bull the good thing it has identifiable marks including spots and scars otherwise it would have been difficult to identify it,” said Kobuhwezi.
Adding that when it got lost they reported to the police and together with local leaders they put up roadblocks especially on Sanga-Mbarara and Sanga-Masaka road but the operation hit a snag.
Fred Muhwezi another victim who also identified two of his stolen cows from those recovered said whenever cows are stolen in their area, they are hoodwinked to lay traps and roadblocks especially on Mbarara-Masaka road which they suspect are major routes for cattle only when those that have been tormenting them are in their closest.
At Sanga police, the UPDF Officer Corporal Stephen Mutyaba denied being part of the racket only admitting that the farm where they recovered the stolen cattle as his but explained he has been giving the suspects money to stock for his cows at this farm.
“I have been sending money to these people to buy for me cows but I didn’t know they were stealing them. It’s only today that I have learnt that most of the cows I had on my farm are stolen,” said Corporal Mutyaba.
But residents and local authorities wondered why he was not asking documentation from the cows sold to him and why they were sold to him at abnormally cheap prices as low as UGX 200,000.
“What he is telling us lacks some truth, wherein Kiruhura can you get a cow as low as UGX 200,000, why couldn’t he ask documentation, he is also part of this racket,” said Mr. Mugyenyi.
Kasasira said investigations will commence to ascertain the truth of the matter and thereafter those implicated will be taken to court on charges of livestock theft.