Hours after the killing of police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi, police officers, assisted by crime preventers and other security operatives on Friday night rounded-up individuals without national identification in different parts of Kampala.
The security officers, in a move akin to the late Milton Obote’s massive infamous crack down nicknamed ‘Panda Gaari’ or ‘get on to the truck’, demanded that people produce their national identity cards and anybody who did not have or failed to produce one, was summarily asked to march with the police officials as they went on with their operation.
Many Ugandans above 18 did not register for the national IDs, while many others who did, have to date not received their cards for various reasons.
Some of the people arrested were either waiting for public transport to go home or going about their business.
On the stretch from Nasser Road to Victoria University, police had three groups, each with about eight police officers and crime preventers who wore tags and donned white police T-shirts.
One unidentified woman near the railway headquarters tried in vain to plead with the officers that she had left her card home. She was marched with others, mainly youth in their 20s, as police looked for more people.
By press time, Sunday Monitor could not ascertain the whereabouts of those arrested and claims by some of the people released that they had paid money before they could be allowed to go. When contacted, Kampala Metropolitan police spokesman, Mr Emilian Kayima, said he was not aware of any such operation.
In a follow-up message, Mr Kayima said: “I hope no one is making this up. I will crosscheck and give feedback but please appreciate the fact that there is too much activity at the centre but officers on ground are in charge,” he said.
In 2012, following the killing of Assistant Inspector of Police John Michael Ariong, police carried out a similar swoop in which hundreds were arrested in connection with the death of the officer.
Until they were ordered off the streets of Kampala recently, police’s Field Force Unit and crime preventers would round up people in slum areas such as Katwe.