At least 14 police officers were on Wednesday arrested for suspected looting of cargo they had salvaged from a burning trailer enroute to Kampala from the port of Mombasa, Kenya. The officers including Special Police Constables, the Mobile Unit and Regional Fire Brigade from Iganga and Jinja are suspected of having stolen an assortment of high-value household items from the trailer at Nagalama near the Mugoya Construction site on the Iganga-Bugiri Road.
The driver, Mr Obadia Kiragu, was reportedly alerted by residents about the smoke coming from the trailer’s tyres around 2am at Idudi Shopping Centre. However, he only stopped several kilometres on the road after several warnings by other road users.
Quoting the driver’s statement, the south eastern region police spokesperson, Mr Samson Lubega, said; “He was trying to avert a flare-up and possible outburst of fire at the trading centre due to the risk of killing people. He said he also thought he would exhaust
When he stopped he was reportedly driving on the rims and fire had spread to the container, the police said. The Fire Brigade from Iganga Police Station put out the fire.
But their efforts did not help much as most of the goods were destroyed. Only a handful was presented as exhibits to the Iganga Police Station, Mr Lubega said during a press conference in Jinja yesterday.
“The missing property was later found in the houses of the officers by a team of investigators sent from the regional investigative department.” The items including computers, laptops, sofa sets, and mattresses were yesterday being recovered from the suspects and the police is still searching for more. Mr Lubega said the officers are being held at the Nalufenya Police Post in Jinja as investigations continue.
The police said the goods were being transported by Godfrey Sserunjogi and Godfrey Walusimbi for a group of Ugandans living abroad who occasionally send items for relatives back home.
Police is, however, yet to enumerate the looted property and was yet to put a price tag on the stolen or destroyed goods by press time. Investigations are also going on to ascertain the cause of the fire.
Mr Lubega said the incident was an embarrassment to the Force. But he added that the public should recognise that this was an act committed by individuals. “These are just errant officers and they will be charged with theft after the conclusion of our investigations.” - Daily Monitor