Karamoja Residents Fear as Former SPCs Retain Police Uniforms

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There is a fear among people in different areas of Karamoja as disbanded Special Police Constables (SPCs) continue using police uniforms, almost a month after they were discharged from service.

In the run-up to the 2021 general elections, Uganda Police Force recruited 50, 000 SPCs to complement its work of law enforcement on a 3-month contract.   After the expiry of their contract early this month, thousands of the SPCs refused to hand over their uniforms following their disbandment.

In Karamoja, some 693 former SPCs are now in the community with police uniforms raising fears that they might use them for criminal activities. Peter Deyong, a resident of Moroto Municipality says that they have fears that some of the SPCs may engage in criminal activities using the uniforms. “We fear they may use these uniforms to engage in crime,” he told URN on Tuesday.

John Bosco Akore, a resident of the Kotido district says it’s not safe for civilians to possess police uniforms in the community because it might stir confusion. “It’s wrong for them to have police uniforms when they are civilians. How shall the public know they are wrong people if they impersonate police officers?” he asked.

Adding that “These are youths and they are capable of doing anything,”   Raymond Olobo, a resident of Abim district told URN in Moroto town that the police uniforms may end up in the wrong hands.  

Amos Kamara, a businessman in Moroto town, says that the government stores in possession of the former SPCs can trigger insecurity.

Samuel Hashaka Mpimbaza, the Karenga Resident District Commissioner and head of District Security Committee, says that there is reasonable suspicion that the former SPCs are already engaging in criminal activities. He says UPDF recently recovered some police uniforms after gunfire exchange with raiders in Karenga district.

In the past, LDUs in Karamoja, who should have been protecting people and their property; have been involved in cattle raids and murders using government stores. According to UPDF and Police authorities in Karamoja, some LDUs even hired out their guns and uniforms to warriors for use in their criminal activities while others got directly involved.

Michael Longole, the Mt. Moroto Region Police spokesperson concurs that it is not safe for the former SPCs to own or possess police uniforms. He cautioned them against misconduct, saying that they would be held accountable for criminal activities they get involved in. 

While recruiting the SPCs in December last year, police promised to retain those with good conduct. In Abim and Karenga district, police have retained some of the SPCs to assist police in fighting crime and boost the Anti-Stock Theft Unit (ASTU) to fight animal theft. Some of the former SPCs who spoke to URN vowed to keep the uniforms until their salary arrears are paid.

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