The killing of assistant inspector general of police Andrew Felix Kaweesi has thrown the force into chaos.
Mr Kaweesi, 43, was shot alongside his driver Godfrey Wambewo, and guard Kenneth Erau, at about 9.30am on Friday, a short distance away from his home in Kkulambiro, a city suburb northeast of Uganda’s capital Kampala.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kale Kayihura said whoever killed Mr Kaweesi had taken advantage of a gap in the system. He said community vigilance should be increased, which remains the best way to remain ahead of criminals.
“All we need is what I have always said, to be more vigilant. I’m told the thugs parked and pretended to be repairing their motorcycle somewhere near Kaweesi’s residence. If there had been vigilance, if someone had said ‘but these ones,’ if there was security consciousness, which we always talk about, neighbourhood watch, perhaps we could have [apprehended them],” Mr Kayihura said.
“All we need to do is enhance vigilance and really not to panic by what has happened. We shall get these thugs,” he added.
In a statement issued on Friday, President Yoweri Museveni directed the Ministry of Finance to work with police to install cameras in all towns and called for increased vigilance.
The site of his death is approximately 3km from where Hajji Abubaker Kiweewa was killed in June 2012, and about 6km from Najjera, also located northeast of Kampala, where Joan Kagezi, the former assistant director of public prosecution was killed in March 2015.
The three victims have another thing in common with 10 other killings (of mostly Muslim clerics) that have happened between 2012 and 2015 — their assailants trailed them on motorbikes and shot them at close range with what eyewitnesses described as powerful guns.
“We were there and then heard loud blasts of bullets and we simply took off. The shooting went on for like 20 minutes. By the time we crept back, that is when we discovered he had been killed,” said a boda boda rider who works at the stage where Mr Kaweesi was killed.
According to a senior intelligence officer involved in the investigations, preliminary information suggests that Mr Kaweesi was trailed from his home in Tuba by at least four people and cornered at the spot where he was shot dead. Neither the motives nor the profiles of potential suspects has been established yet.
“I was leaving home about 9.30am when I heard gunshots. I thought that maybe policemen from Tuba police station were chasing thieves. I was surprised to see people come to me after about 20 minutes telling me that Felix Kaweesi had been shot dead,” said Charles Musoke Sserunjogi, the mayor of Kampala Central Division, who lives a stone’s throw away from where the shooting happened.
“He was a very friendly and approachable man who wanted to bridge the gap between the police and the public. If Kaweesi can die like this it says a lot about the state of our security in the country. Kaweesi should have been the last person to meet his death in this manner. It is a big indication of how we are not secure as Ugandans,” added Mr Sserunjogi.
According to the mayor, the police have disproportionately disbursing much of their resources to hardware while little goes to human resource.
“They are not doing much to enhance intelligence or prevention. Security must strategically plan for prevention of crime rather than reacting to it. You need active intelligence to prevent crime, not political intelligence,” he said.
Scrutiny of the police has focused on its abilities to detect and prevent crimes or to adequately investigate them.
Last month, homicide detectives from Uganda and Kenya attending a two-week training in Kampala heard that out of about 4,500 murder cases the police had recorded between 2011 and 2015, only 70 had been successfully investigated. The 1.5 per cent success rate was attributed to lack of expertise and understaffing, according to Felix Ndyomugyenyi, Mr Kaweesi’s deputy at the Directorate of Human Resources.