LUWERO, Uganda (Reuters) – In a small Ugandan town in February, Juma Nsereko took a panicked call from his wife: their five-year-old twin girls were missing and the mother suspected their neighbor, a jobless man, had kidnapped them.
After a frantic three-day search the children were recovered unharmed and the neighbor, who had demanded a ransom of 13 million Ugandan shillings ($3,500), was arrested.
Kidnappings - Nation - People - Countries - Nigeria
Until recently, such kidnappings were rare in the nation of 41 million people. Although still low compared with some other African countries like oil-rich Nigeria, numbers have risen markedly in the last three years.
They jumped again in the first two months of this year, according to unpublished police data seen by Reuters, further eroding people’s faith in a police force that opponents of President Yoweri Museveni have accused of serving him and not the state.
January - Museveni - Uganda - Years - Law
In January, Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 31 years, signed a law that scraps an age cap, enabling him to stand for re-election in 2021.
The 73-year-old leader’s ability to push the law through parliament illustrates his strong grip on power, analysts said, despite increased public anger over corruption and poor social services.
Nsereko - Case - Police - Reputation - Family
Even in Nsereko’s case, which ended happily, police emerged with their reputation tarnished – the family credited the extensive coverage of their plight on television for the safe return of the children, not law enforcement agencies.
“The police were so angry with me that I was complaining to the media about my frustrations with them, but it was media that got me back my kids,” Nsereko told Reuters in Luwero.
Police - Spokesman - Emirian - Kayima - Police
Police spokesman Emirian Kayima denied police were not doing their job and said criminals were exploiting technology such as unregistered SIM cards to conduct kidnappings.
“We do the best we can and we keep improving but crime keeps changing shape and color and somehow it...
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