Yearning for a real Ugandan police officer
If I were the public relations manager of the Uganda Police Force, I would savour all the media images of police officers in action saving lives in Kasese after the flooding of River Nyamwamba.
There are so few examples of police officers in positive representation lately! The head of the UPF PR department must make sure that everyone sees these.
At Taibah International School, where I work, we hosted parents at a sports gala at the secondary section while the primary section had their exposition day on the theme of Science in Nature.
By simply writing to the DPC Kajjansi police station through our local Bwebajja police post OC, we were allocated over 10 police officers to help out with security.
As usual, these officers were superb, similar to many more we have had over the years whenever a function is hosted at school. They were kind to kids; and parents found them very helpful. I have often wondered; does the DPC or OC select particular officers for our functions? Why are they so good?
Now my good friend, the MP from Bugweri, Hon Abdu Katuntu, has two police officers that mind security at his residence as mandated for a senior ‘other’ (he hates being called a shadow) minister. I have met many but all seem as if they, too, are from heaven, like ours.
Katuntu is about to face a challenge of reconciling the different shades of police officers! During the month of June, he collected and compiled images and videos on social media depicting incredible brutality inflicted on Uganda citizens by officers of the UPF.
There is a photograph of a woman in a long dress being bundled or thrown onto the back of a pickup truck. It seems that three officers including one woman did this, as their hands are up in the air following that action.
The second photograph is of a man down in a gully with brown, muddy water. He is surrounded by five police officers in three different coloured uniforms. Two seem to be pulling him up whilst one’s hand is raised high up with a stick and seemingly about to whack this poor defenceless fellow!
There is another photograph of a man being wrestled to the ground by two officers wearing helmets. A different uniformed officer is looking on whilst someone who seems to be a plainclothes officer pulls on the man’s leg. The photo also shows a man, presumably from the press, straining to take a photograph of the action.
The most striking of this particular sad collection of police brutality is a collage of five photographs featuring an interaction between Bishop Zac Niringiye and a group of about four policemen. One of them is in a different uniform and he is holding a big gun.
In one photograph, Niringiye is surrounded and the rest show different stages of pushing, shoving and then dragging him away. There are more photos in the collection showing single, armed officers kicking or throwing things at someone. I found these quite scary!
I am not sure of the gatekeeping methods that Katuntu employed when compiling this photo gallery but it seems that the running theme is of uniformed men, and some with guns and sticks, bashing defenceless people.
Perhaps he chose from a bank where there are others depicting police officers under attack but if you lived in Uganda today, you would know that this is unlikely.
When a relative asked about what I intended to feature this week, she had a lot to say on learning that I would comment on finding good policemen and women. She doubts that there are any and in her opinion, all are partisan and unpatriotic. Strong sentiments!
Last week, at the burial of the recently-murdered Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Kirya, police chief Kale Kayihura was not booed unlike Gen Moses Ali who brought condolences from government.
Kayihura, who said the late Kirya was his friend, said he, too, is human and that he was appalled about having to bury so many Muslim clerics in recent times. He was not booed even when he said that Kirya was working with him on the ongoing investigation about who is killing Muslims.
Neither was he booed when he spoiled it all by claiming that there may be a link with the expired ADF rebel group.
Perhaps he earned acceptance at a Muslim burial because of how he presented himself; yet Gen Ali, a Muslim, was nearly thrown out. It is this kind of police officer for whom we all yearn – the one like Katuntu’s at his home and the kind one at every function of our school.