This week, we learned that President Museveni launched the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras being installed in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. The installation follows series of high profile murders that have characterised Kampala suburbs in the recent years.
They include the most recent murder of former Buyende District Police Commander, Muhammad Kirumira, former Arua Municiplaity Member of Parliament, Col. Ibrahim Abiriga, former Police Spokesperson, AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Joan Kagezi, Sheikh Maj. Mohammed Kiggundu, among many other moslem clerics and women.
Government argues that the installation of the cameras would improve security by detecting the people behind such murders thereby, giving room for justice to prevail.
During the launch, Mr Museveni, reportedly told journalists that, “It is just a matter of intelligence gathering to know who did what,” saying their challenge as government had been lack of individuals to give firsthand accounts of the killings, much as it was still possible to “find out who saw what.”
The government brags about the cameras being able to capture still pictures and videos both during day and at night, as well as do facial recognitions, which I think, is good.
However, the big question remains, how effective is this project in crime management as anticipated?
The Police director of ICT, Felix Baryamwisaki, reportedly said the cameras, which installation is being undertaken by Huawei Technologies under the National Safe City Project, would be pinned at all major exit routes from Kampala, VIP places including parliament, busy streets and major highways.
That takes us to the question; how many of those murders took place within the busy streets? How many occurred along the high ways or how many occurred at the VIP places?
Joan Kagezi was killed in Kiwaatule, Andrew Felix Kaweesi in Kulambiro, Ibrahim Abiriga in Kawanda, Muhammad Kirumira in Bulenga and Mohammed Kiggundu in Masanafu. Nearly none of those murders was on a major high-way, busy street or parliament. Implying that even if the cameras had been installed prior to the deaths, it would not have made any different.
It is true, assailants could wait for their targets at the VIP places, monitoring when they set-off and then they begin to trail them. It is also possible that they have their agents at or near the VIP places, carefully monitoring the movement of their targets while communicating with the execution team, far away, say near the homes of the targets as many of the killings have been near the individuals’ homes, by phone.
Either ways, it would still be very hard if not impossible to tell who actually is an assailant, even when captured by cameras, considering the fact that many people use boda-bodas and ask them to wait outside as they carry on with their businesses. But also, due to the large number of motorcycles within the city centre, the camera may capture boda-boda riders who coincidentally ride in the same direction shortly after the victims leave the VIP places or as they drive out of Kampala, along those exit routes, thereby causing more arrests of innocent citizens who only coincidentally share our roads with the victims.
Therefore, unless the cameras will be installed along every road and path or even at the gates of all VIP persons, to think that the installations will end high profile murders in Uganda is a myth. Rather, it will help police detect public gatherings and demonstrations in Kiseka Market, along William Street, Nasser Road, the taxi parks and other places in down-town Kampala, but not ending murders.
I hope technical break-downs that will come along with the project won’t see our millions and billions only end up abandoned months after installations!