For an urban suburb, Bweyogerere in Kira Municipality of Wakiso district used to have business booming; people moving around and making merry deep into the night, unlike other neighbouring places like Kireka next door.
This was not the case on Monday night. By 8pm, most houses were closed. Voices of adults could be heard calling out to their children to get into the houses because “it is dangerous outside”.
Two weeks ago, the situation wasn’t as it is now until unknown thugs started dropping letters, saying they would be harvesting human heads and other body parts from the area.
A few days back, the thugs returned; creatively this time, to plant a metallic signpost with a notice demanding for 100 human heads in neighbouring Mbalwa trading centre.
“I think they are just scaring us because of their unknown motives. Some of us are not scared and even when people now close early, there are others in the bars that move all night. It is God who keeps us,” Josephine Nakajubi, who operates a kiosk in Bweyogerere, said.
Nakajubi’s optimism is not shared by Mark Kagimu, another resident, who believes that the thugs could strike like they have done elsewhere, given the wave of insecurity which has swept through parts of the country recently.
“They asked for 100 heads which I think is exaggerated but that doesn’t mean that they cannot do anything. They can at least get one or two so we should not take anything for granted,” Kagimu said.
In 2016, the tendency for unknown people to drop such letters was common in the Greater Masaka region and spread to different rural areas. Letters were frequently dropped a day before residents were terrorised by machete-wielding gangsters. By 2017, the trend started being noticed in urban centres.
Bweyogerere is just an example of the broader security problem the country faces currently. Others areas affected include Kakiri, Seeta, Mukono, Luzira, Jinja and several parts of Wakiso district.
Luweero Woman Member of parliament, Lillian Nakate, was forced to run to police after receiving threats of kidnap through these anonymous letters targeting her children and mother.
Similar cases have been recorded countrywide. At Bweyogerere police station, ten cases have been reported in the last four months. Police say that the trend in urban areas is being monitored.
Kampala metropolitan police spokesman, Luke Owoyesigire, told The Observer on Monday that police is taking things quite seriously.
“There are several arrests that have been made including of children, but during interrogation many of them say they are simply doing this to scare people but have no intention of harming them,” Owoyesigire said. “But as police, we cannot take these threats for granted. It has happened elsewhere and it can happen again.”
According to them, many of those arrested have confessed to the prank of writing and distributing them and some have been prosecuted.
Constant vigilance and sharing information with police is what the public should take up seriously, Owoyesigire said.
“The public should remain calm, the situation is under control and they should not fear, if anything like this happens, they should report to police using the toll free numbers we gave out,” he added.