Up to 235 heads of cattle have been reported stolen in Nakasongola district leaving pastoralists crying foul.
According to the District Police report, 235 heads of cattle were stolen between May 2022 to March 2023. The report indicates that only 127 have been recovered and 108 are still missing.
The Annual Police Crime report ranks Nakasongola second among districts with the highest cases of theft cases after registering 161 cases in 2022. The hotspots for cattle thefts are Nakitoma, Nabiswera, Lwabyata, Kalungi, and Kalongo sub counties among others.
Sam Kigula the LCV Chairperson of Nakasongola explains that the thieves disguise as charcoal traders to cover the stolen cattle in trucks and transport them to Kampala abattoirs.
Kigula adds that others have been stolen by thieves conniving with herdsmen who move the cattle in disguise in the search for pasture and later loaded to trucks before they are transported to Kampala for sale. Kigula says that cattle thefts have affected cattle grazing and left pastoralists in poverty.
Daniel Katende a pastoralist at Kigarambi Village says that he lost four heads to thieves on January 3rd this year. Katende says that during investigations, it was found out the thieves after stealing his cattle obtained a letter LCI Chairperson of a nearby village confirming ownership by another person.
Patrick Lule the Acting Savannah Regional Police Spokesperson says that due to rampant animal thefts, they have resolved to follow up with all suspects that were taken to court and either granted bail or released after serving their sentences.
Lule says that the motive is to establish that the accused or convicts are not again engaging in animal thefts. Lule adds that they have also introduced snap checkpoints at Kampala-Gulu Highway to impound cars engaged in transporting cattle as well as re-enforce a ban on the movement of animals at night.
But Fredson Kakooza Wilson, the LCIII Chairperson of Nabiswera sub-county says that animal thefts have persisted because the suspects easily buy their way out of Police and Court after arrest.
Kakooza says that many pastoralists spend nights in the cold guarding animals against thieves but when they arrest suspects, the Police grants them bond whereas other are released on court bail after soliciting money from them.
“Now pastoralists have resolved to lynch the cattle thieves because the Force and Courts have failed to jail the suspects. Police and Court should jail the suspects because so often we take them with exhibits.’’ Kakooza said.
In 2021, 113 cases of cattle thefts were reported in Nakasongola 2021 and the district ranked in the eighth position with the highest number of cases across the country.