KOTIDO – Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) soldiers have shot dead a suspected Jie cattle rustler in Kotido district and recovered 158 cattle, 300 goats and an unspecified number of sheep. UPDF clashed with the rustlers in Nakapelimoru sub county in Kotido district which borders Kaabong on Monday morning.
Brig. Joseph Balukudembe, the UPDF 3rd Division Commander, on Tuesday morning said that the Jie cattle rustlers from Kotido crossed to raid animals in Kaabong district and met the army in the jungle. He says that after raiding the cattle, the rustlers drove them towards the border of Kenya and Uganda and kept for about two days forging ways of sneaking them to their kraals in Nakapelimoru sub county in Kotido district while being pursued by the military.
“They drove them to Kenya trying to divert the attention of the security to think it’s the Turkana who raided the animals and took them to Kenya but our soldiers remained trailing them. So on the third day, the warriors came driving animals trying to enter into Kotido and that’s where they met our soldiers,” he said.
He said one of the rustlers was put out of action while others run away. He says they managed to recover all the raided animals and have kept them at Nakapelimoru army barracks waiting to be given back to the rightful owners.
Brig Balukudembe appealed to leaders in Karamoja to come out and help security forces to fight against the return of cattle rustling. According to Brig Balukudembe, local leaders in the region know the criminals but they don’t disclose their identities to security forces.
“We don’t want to see the situation where cattle rustling is growing generation to generation in Karamoja yet there is a lot to be changed in the region. John Chila, the Nakapelimoru sub-county chairperson in Kotido district says the current situation in Karamoja needs affirmative action.
“The problem now is that our youths are not listening to the advice from the elders and this makes it hard, “he said. Early this year, Amudat district LC V chairperson Francis Kiyonga asked the government to introduce a program for mental disarmament targeting all Karamoja leaders.
According to Kiyonga, most of the leaders in Karamoja are still interested in the continuation of raids which used to benefit most of them before the government launched disarmament in 2001 and 2003. He said that he’s not surprised that the resumption of cattle rustling among the Karimojong community is being encouraged by some leaders who used to benefit from cattle rustling before they were elected in the offices.
“Most of our leaders in Karamoja were being elected by the community basing on their background of being commanders of cattle rustling and if government does not conduct mental disarmament on Karamoja leaders, then the current peace will be jeopardized,” he said.