KAMPALA (DAILY MONITOR) – Most of the survivors had scars on their chests, arms, heads and faces that could have only resulted from deep cuts.
These are chilling marks of torture etched on survivors of the notorious Boda Boda 2010 as they gave harrowing accounts of torture meted out on them during the seven years of operation by the vigilante group.
The survivors now say government faces the biggest challenge in making sure they get justice.
Victims of the footloose group said some of them had on several occasions reported to the police but no action was taken by the law enforcers.
They said their tormentors had proved so powerful that to save themselves from their high-handedness, some of them decided to run back to their villages to avoid being tortured with nowhere to report.
Scars inflicted by Boda Boda 2010
Some of the victims, who gathered on Tuesday at Kibuye on the outskirts of Kampala, displayed photographs taken after surviving the brutality.
Kampala Metropolitan spokesperson Luke Oweyesigire advised the complainants to take the matter to police.
“We will handle any complaints transparently. Let them bring their files at the metropolitan headquarters,” he said on Tuesday.
Several police case references that they say never yielded justice were also paraded.
“We, who you see here, are the lucky ones who survived. Hundreds of our colleagues were killed and motorcycles taken. We challenge police to name the owners of the cycles and number plates recovered from Boda Boda 2010 offices. Some of the people we have repeatedly reported to the police are the ones under detention over murder,” said Mr Moses Tumuhaise who works at Shell Kibuye stage.
He named three of his colleagues as George Maliba, Wasswa and Patrick Kato, who did not survive the brutality of Boda Boda 2010 that apart from confiscating their motorcycles also allegedly participated in several robberies.
Deziderio Byamukama told Daily Monitor that he lost his arm to a one Julius Tushabe and commended the military for decisive action that saw several leaders of the vigilante group arrested and detained this week.
“Tushabe and another person waylaid me in Rubaga. Tushabe cut off my hand and took my motorcycle. They thought they had killed me. I have spent over Shs5 million on medication,” Mr Byamukama said. He said Tushabe is remanded at Luzira prisons.
Mr Patrick Mande from Nakulabye, Eliot Stage said his motorcycle was robbed by some members of Boda Boda 2010 one and a half years ago.
Although he says he reported a case at Old Kampala Police Station, registered as MCB 405/2010, the police never took action. His motorcycle UBM 263L was robbed by people known to him and it has never been recovered to date.
“They had initially beaten me and one of my left ribs was dislocated. I got cuts on the head and on my arm. It is a situation which one wouldn’t want to remember,” Mr Mande said.
Boda Boda 2010 took over control of the motorcycle taxi riders industry’s management seven years ago.
It has left several cyclists shedding tears over its unchecked brutality and has over the years received the backing of the Uganda Police Force.
The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, has on several occasions praised Boda Boda 2010, saying it is doing a commendable job.
The vigilante group is led by Mr Abdullah Kitatta who was arrested at the weekend with 28 others over accusations of aggravated robbery and gruesome killing of Francis Ekalungar, a former accountant at Case Clinic in Kampala.
He was kidnapped on January 2 and his burnt body recovered the following day at Kajjansi, off Kampala-Entebbe highway.
Another victim, Abdu Kiyemba, who works at Kavule stage in Kibuye, a suburb of Kampala, showed a four-year-old police reference SD06/20/07/13 where he says he identified to the police people who beat him but the culprits have never been arrested.
“It was a gang of more than 20 goons from Boda Boda 2010. They hit me with batons and iron bars because I did not have their identity card. They made away with my motorcycle. I identified a one Lubowa among my beaters,” Kiyemba said. He has scars in the face and on the head.
Last week, the police announced it was stuck with the file of the deceased but in the same week, the Chieftaincy of Military intelligence (CMI), and the Internal Security Organisation (CMI), swung into action arresting many of the gang, some of whom have reportedly confessed to the killing of the Case Clinic accountant.
Ready to give incriminating evidence
Several motorcyclists yesterday said they were ready to give incriminating evidence against members of Boda Boda 2010 in all their nasty dealings in land, markets, and lorry transport.
“We have had nowhere to report in the recent past but if CMI requires evidence we shall provide. We have a lot of evidence against those people,” another rider, Mr Kanyike Kiviiri, said.
Mr Patrick Sabiiti, who works near the New Taxi Park in the city centre, pins a one Araf who along others in 2016 robbed him of his motorcycle UDR 445Z. He reported the matter to the Old Kampala Police Station, recorded as CRB1892/2016.
“I tried to pursue the matter but police were not responsive. I painfully went back to my village in Fort Portal. I only came back when I heard that the tormentors had been arrested. Hopefully I will recover my cycle,” Mr Sabiiti said.
The chairman of the Kampala Metropolitan Boda Boda Enterprise, Mr John Semujju, demanded that an inventory of the recovered number plates be publicised.
“You will find that some of those number plates belong to our people who were murdered in the grisly actions of Boda Boda 2010. Let security publicise the number plates for us to intervene,” Mr Ssemujju said.
He accused Boda Boda 2010 of involvement in aggravated robberies, torture, murders and arbitrary detention of cyclists. He displayed scars and a photograph when he wore bandages on the head after being beaten up by Mr Kitatta’s group.
“Mr Kitatta would boast of calling the President directly on any matter. This made the police fearful of him and it created a leeway for him to commit crimes. We have all the required evidence to incriminate him,” Mr Semujju said as he called for the revival of all cases against Mr Kitatta’s group.
Mr Kanyike Kiviiri called for the trial of the culprits to be administered by the military court.
“All behaviour by that group is tantamount to terrorism. They once attacked our office and destroyed everything. We are still stuck with our reference numbers 539/2013 and MCB 406/2010,” Mr Kanyike said.
Mr Isma Ssebugwawo from Kobil Kibuye stage was beaten at Busega and spent days in coma when he failed to show an identity card to the Boda Boda 2010 gang.
“When I reported to Busega Police Post afterwards, the officers there instead ordered me to pay Shs50,000 so that my motorcycle could be released.
There is another case against the leaders of Boda Boda 2010 for swindling Shs500 million that had been donated to them by government to boost their Sacco.
“The file case number is at Kibuli Police Headquarters in Kampala, recorded as GEF/4017/13. No action has been taken yet all names were given to police,” Mr Bosco Kalungi said.