Mukono gang leader arrested for staging illegal roadblocks

Aziz Ssempala (L) dressed in LDU uniform

Aziz Ssempala (L) dressed in LDU uniform

Police have arrested Aziz Ssempala, a suspected gang leader accused of staging illegal checkpoints in various villages of Mukono district with intention of robbing travelers and extorting money from boda boda riders.

At the time of the arrest, Ssempala was wearing a Local Defense Unit (LDU) uniform and had staged an illegal checkpoint near Kyawambogo trading center in Nakisunga sub-county - allegedly stopping and extorting money from motorcycle riders. 

A joint team of police and army led by Hawah Namukome, the officer in charge of Kyetume police post stormed the illegal checkpoint and arrested the suspect. Security proceeded to check the apartment Ssempala had hired at Namuyenje trading center and found military attires and several rounds of ammunition hidden in his room.

Ssempala had staged the checkpoint with two other unidentified men in plainclothes who managed to escape. However, according to security officers, it is believed he has a gang of over ten people that assist him to stage illegal checkpoints during day and night hours. He is currently detained at Mpoma barracks. 

Hakim Mulyowa, a resident at Kyetume trading center but with a garden at Namuyenje says he was surprised to see the suspects extorting money from people riding motorcycles carrying foodstuff, which prompted them to report to police.

When issuing out the latest coronavirus directives last week, President Yoweri Museveni authorized motorcycles carrying cargo to move before 5.00 pm. Also, motorcycles carrying patients were permitted to move. 

“One gangster has been putting on reserve force uniform and there were two others in plainclothes carrying sticks in the shape of police batons," Mulyowa says. "They have been stopping whichever motorcycle uses that route.”

The officer in charge of Mukono police division Ismael Kifudde notes that the operation is still on to apprehend Ssempala's other accomplices and a detailed report will be issued later.

Kifudde also warns people who are still insisting on traveling to various places that they are risking their lives to the coronavirus disease and to such criminals. He also warns that police will not hesitate to arrest people flouting the 42-day travel restrictions. Meanwhile, police are still struggling to stop private vehicles plying the route of Kampala-Jinja highway. 

According to police, motorists have started paying off pregnant women to tag along so as to flout the travel restrictions while others move with forged documents issued by private health facilities recommending them for further assessment and treatment at bigger facilities in Kampala and Wakiso districts. 

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd