Gangs fuelling crime in Mbale – new report

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MBALE. The presence of gangs and militia groups is one of the root causes of increasing crime and violence in Mbale Town, according to a new research by Human Rights Network in partnership with National Coalition on Police Accountability.
The research was conducted by consultants hired from Islamic University in Uganda between 2015 and 2016. It focused on three villages of Namatala, Namakwekwe and Busamaga and it culminated into a report on urban violence and crime prevention.
Speaking at the launch of the report last Saturday, Ms Ane Kristine, the health adviser at Danish Institute Against Torture, said apart from unemployment, poverty and drug abuse, the cropping up of organised criminal groups is fuelling crime.
“These groups are flourishing due to rampant unemployment and poverty among the youth. We recommend that to stop this, the government should focus on empowering urban poor youth by ensuring they get vocational skills through capacity building,” Ms Kristine, said.
Mr Yusuf Mukweta, the regional coordinator of Human Rights Network, said many of the gangs are found in slums where they base to terrorise people within and outside the town.
“Therefore, it’s needful to enhance interaction between local population in the slum areas and the local authorities, especially police to uproot them,” he said, adding that municipal authorities should also enforce structural prevention mechanisms such as street lighting.
He added that dialogue between the community members, leaders and police needs to be strengthened to enhance trust and cooperation in their joint efforts to address urban violence.
Pastor Justin Mutesi, a resident of Namatala Ward in Industrial Division, said in her area, many unemployed youth spend the day gambling, taking drugs and alcohol and reorganise to terrorise residents at night.
“This area is almost manned by gangs who roam all day and night. There are several cases of robbery, beatings, killings and fighting. Police are not doing enough,” she said.
The Elgon region police commander, Mr Francis Chemusto, said police can do little to curb criminal activities if local authorities are not cooperative.
“We need to foster a good working relationship in order to prevent crime and violence. We cannot work alone,” he said, adding that police will strengthen community policing in slum areas.

Issues at hand
Report. The research was conducted by a team of consultants hired from Islamic University in Uganda between 2015 and 2016. It focused on three villages of Namatala, Namakwekwe and Busamaga.
Base. Mr Yusuf Mukweta, the regional coordinator of Human Rights Network, said many of the gangs are found in slums where they base to terrorise people within and outside the town.
Call. He added that dialogue between the community members, leaders and police needs to be strengthened to enhance trust and cooperation in their joint efforts to address urban violence.

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