BUSHENYI – Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi, has vowed to ensure disciplinary action is taken against soldiers who are accused of torturing residents living around Karinzu Forest Reserve in Bushenyi District.
Residents of Mashonga Sub-county and Bitooma Town Council, during a recent meeting with Mr Magyezi, their area MP, accused UPDF soldiers guarding the forest against torturing the residents found in the forest and then extorting from them.
In response, Mr Magyezi, said the soldiers are tarnishing the name of government.
“I am really very hurt for the agony you are going through. We can’t allow this impunity to prevail; even torturing leaders? I am taking this to the floor of Parliament and the UPDF top commanders. Lucky enough, the locals said they can easily identify the tormentors. They will have to face the law and government has to compensate those that had been tortured,” Mr Magyezi said during a meeting at Nyabwina Trading Centre in Bitooma Sub-county.
During the meeting, the residents narrated that last week, the soldiers invaded Nyakitembe I and II, Akayebe and Kayanga villages in Mashonga Sub-county and Nyabwina and Kimuri in Bitooma Town Council, beat up and tortured 30 people, accusing them of degrading the natural forest.
The chairperson for Nyabwiina Village, Mr Fabian Muhumuza, was allegedly beaten when he tried to stop the soldiers from assaulting the locals. He is nursing a broken arm and back.
“There were three men armed with guns and sticks. Other two were unarmed, and when I asked what was going on, they started beating me,” Mr Muhumuza said.
The district councillor for Mirambi Sub-county, Mr John Bomukama, said during a meeting at Nyabwina Trading Centre in Bitooma Sub-county on Sunday that they can no longer tolerate the misconduct of soldiers.
Residents have threatened to reiterate if the authorities do not intervene. “We know these people [UPDF] who torture us; they drink [from our bars] and buy food from us. We have had some of our colleagues turned to beggars because they have been maimed. They attack villages, town centres, arrest everyone and you have to pay them to gain your freedom,” Mr Abdullah Tumusifu, a resident, said.
The UPDF Second Division public relations officer, Capt Stephen Tumwesigye, said he is still liaising with his colleagues on the ground to establish the truth of the matter.
“I have to call my other people on ground, police and local leaders to establish whether our soldiers there are misbehaving or these are just mere allegations; give me some time to make consultations,” Capt Tumwesigye said on Wednesday.