In recent years, Uganda has faced a rising challenge of robberies targeting foreigners who move with cash. These incidents often involve armed assailants storming the offices of foreigners or attacking foreigners transiting with cash stashed in their bags. The assailants then rudely strike their victims and make off with large sums of money.
The motives behind these robberies vary – ranging from desperation fueled by economic disparities to organized crime seeking quick financial gains. The impact extends beyond immediate financial losses as such incidents can result in loss of life.
As a response to this criminality, law enforcement agencies have been actively working to combat these money robberies by implementing measures such as increased security protocols for foreigners and improving coordination between security forces. These measures however have not been deterrent enough to prevent these robberies.
In this well-detailed article, Charmar News reveals some of the robberies that have occurred to foreigners moving large sums of money in cash.
UPDF soldier kills Eritrean businessman
On 20th December 2016, a Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) soldier at the rank of Captain was arrested in connection with the kidnap and murder of an Eritrean businessman. The suspect intended to steal two 2 million Euros (about Shs8 billion) from Eritrean.
In this particular case, Capt Hakim Mangeni and his alleged accomplices Ben Lumu and Rucy Katuramu were arrested by the police Flying Squad Unit (FSU) over allegations of killing Deniel Weldo.
The late Andrew Kaweesi who was the police spokesperson at the time said the trio duped Weldo, a former trader in South Sudan, that they would help him get a visa to Germany from where he could transact business.
Kaweesi said the suspects, under the guise of securing Weldo a visa realized that he had over two million euros on his Ugandan accounts and hatched a plan to eliminate him.
“Weldo was reported missing on October 27. The police mounted a search. He was on the weekend recovered from murder at a farm in the Busia District of Kenya. Three suspects have been arrested and charged with murder,” Kaweesi told journalists in Kampala.
Kaweesi said the suspects connived with two local banks and transferred Weldo’s money. He, however, declined to reveal the name of the bank for fear of litigation.
Although Kaweesi could not divulge how police got information linking the suspects to the crime, a police source said the Eritrean envoy and Weldo’s relatives presented his cell phone and other documents that FSU used to extract call printouts from local telecom companies.
Chinese robbed in Namanve
On August 22, 2019, news spread all over Uganda of how a Chinese national was robbed of $10,000 (about Shs36 million) in Namanve, along the Kampala – Jinja highway.
According to the Deputy Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire, the Chinese national who was identified as Dinh Trung was intercepted by two thugs driving in a Toyota Spacio registration number UBE 803N.
Aged 32, Trung, who was driving a Toyota Surf registration number UAX 425Q seemed to have been trailed by the thugs for a while before they intercepted him in Namanve. The thugs reportedly had in their possession a pistol and a hammer.
“After blocking the victim’s way, the said robbers smashed the window glass of the driver’s side and reached inside and grabbed a bag containing $10,000,” Owoyesigyire said.
In this case, the Police stated that they had arrested one person to help with investigations in addition to recording statements from eyewitnesses.
The arrested person was only identified as Isma. To help further with the investigation, the Police contacted the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) to acquire details of the registration number plate of the vehicle the robbers were using. The vehicle’s number plate was reportedly attached to a company called Canon Innovations.
Chinese cashier robbed
In another case on 16th July 2020, police launched a manhunt for a group of thugs accused of attacking a Chinese national and robbing Shs63million and $ 4000 in Kampala.
Owoyesigyire identified the robbery victim as Lu Zincing, a Chinese national and cashier at Omega Online Limited. Zincing was a resident of Mukwano Mall in Kampala.
Zincing was reportedly attacked on a Wednesday evening on his way from his workplace in Bugolobi, a city suburb. In his statement to police, Zincing claimed that he was riding on a motorcycle when a group of people riding on a motorcycle surrounded him and started assaulting him.
They reportedly vanished with all the money he was carrying from his workplace. Police suspected that the same group raided China Railway Company in Bugolobi and made off with an unspecified amount of money.
Chinese lose Shs200m to robbers
Armed men hijacked a Chinese Toyota Harrier carrying 200 million Shillings to the Bank at Buwama town, in Mpigi District. Police Spokesperson, Fred Enanga, said the four thugs diverted the Harrier and its Chinese occupants up to Kyabadaza village where they robbed them clean.
“The Chinese were taking the money for banking but they were intercepted by four armed men. They robbed them of their money worth Shs200 million including their mobile phones. They (robbers) cannot receive the intelligence without the involvement of insiders,” Enanga said at the time.
Forex Bureau attacked, Shs220m stolen
It’s important to note that the Buwama incident came five days after thugs had broken into the Assured Forex Bureau at the Titanic Building on Johnson Street in Kampala and stole Shs220 million.
A handiwork of insiders
A detective at Kampala Central Police says that their preliminary investigations pointed to the possible involvement of insiders. The robbers first rented a room opposite the Forex Bureau and brought in equipment disguised as if they were going to renovate their newly acquired place.
In 2020, police revealed that more than One Billion Shillings had been robbed by companies and traders in Kampala and its neighboring districts.
However, police detectives noticed that in all the robbery incidents involving huge sums of money, it had been the handiwork of insiders.
Police officer robs Chinese trader
Coming into the year 2021, on April 27, Police Flying Squad operatives arrested the mastermind of a robbery that happened early in April at a Chinese residence in Kyambogo, a Kampala suburb. The suspect, identified as Fred Kazibwe alias Kali Smart, was arrested from his hideout in Maya, Nanziga zone, Nsangi, Mpigi district.
“We would like to inform the public that the person who masterminded the robbery at the Chinese Residence has been arrested. He was in his hideout in Maya at Nanziga zone where he is a businessman with property and he is identified as Fred Kazibwe alias (Kali Smart),” said Police spokesperson Fred Enanga.
Caught on camera robbing Chinese
In the robbery which was caught on surveillance footage, a gang of three men and a woman, entered the private residence located on Lower Estate Endinburg Avenue, Kyambogo, pretending to be employees of National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).
They proceeded to put one of the workers at home, a Chinese national, in a chokehold and later on seized another Ugandan house help who came along. They tied up the two and went on to ransack the home, making off with over Shs85 million and another $45000 after breaking a safe.
Sudanese nationals targeted
At the beginning of this year on 11 Feb 2022, Police once again started hunting for a group of thugs who were targeting foreign businessmen and officials in various parts of Kampala.
According to the Police, the group, mostly youths aged between 17 and 25, allegedly had its bases in Kinyoro, Buligwanga, Kisenyi-Mengo, and the slums of Katwe, from where they spend the day in training for their night operations.
Charles Twine, the then Spokesperson of the Criminal Investigations Directorate, said that the group had masterminded several robberies mostly in the areas of Kabalagala and Muyenga. The suburbs host several expatriates and Eritrean refugees.
One of the cases he cited was a robbery that involved two Kampala-based Sudanese nationals who were attacked. The two were also beaten before being robbed of about Shs50 million that they had just withdrawn from the bank.
An Indian on a motorcycle robbed
On March 12, 2021, Police revealed that an incident happened along Mawanda road and captured on CCTV cameras, saw Jiwan, an Indian businessman riding a motorcycle, was beaten and in the resultant melee, was robbed of Shs5 million and two mobile phones.
Relatedly, one person was gunned down and four others were arrested in the police crackdown on organized criminal gangs targeting people with huge sums of money in Kampala. A team of officers from the Crime Intelligence and Flying Squad Unit rounded up the suspects in the areas of Kisenyi-Mengo near the bus terminal.
According to Police, the suspects were involved in other city robberies including the robbery of Shs16 million from Abdallah Wanda at Mini price in Kampala, Shs7 million from an unidentified businessman at Buganda Road last week, and the attack and robbery of Chief Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu.
Indian, loses She420m to robbers
An Indian businessman, Vije Kumar, and his driver, Charles Kamwene, a Congolese national lost Shs420 million to robbers in Arua City. Police are investigating a case of aggravated robbery that occurred on the 23rd of November at Nsambya Cell, Awidru Ward, Arua Central Division.
Claire Nabakka, the Deputy Police Spokesperson, while addressing the media at Naguru Police Headquarters, said two unidentified men armed with a pistol and an SMG riding on a motorcycle attacked Kumar and his driver.
“The victims were driving in a white Mark X number UBM 913F resisted stopping; unfortunately, they were fired at, and so they had to stop. The assailants robbed them of up to Shs420 million,” Nabakka said.
Indian cashier robbed in Mayuge
Another case of aggravated robbery was registered in Mayuge involving Yasmin Gaja, an Indian cashier at the GM sugar factory in Giri Giri village, in Mayuge district. According to the police, the perpetrators, dressed in army uniforms, high-jacked Gaja, who was driving a white Toyota Wish, and they were able to rob him of Shs65 million.
The economic implications of money robberies in Uganda are profound, as they not only impact the financial sector but also have broader consequences for the country’s development.
The government’s ongoing efforts to strengthen security, coupled with initiatives aimed at addressing socio-economic disparities, will be crucial in mitigating the risks associated with money robberies and fostering a more secure and stable economic environment in Uganda.