COVID-19 Lockdown: Thieves are Starving in Kitgum.

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Suspected thieves rounded up Photo by Joel Odota

The recent lockdown imposed by the government in an attempt to fight coronavirus is affecting many groups of people in society, and thieves are no exception.

The impacts of the coronavirus lockdown that many governments have opted for to combat COVID-19 is yielding mixed results. Although Uganda is doing relatively well in the fight against COVID-19, with just 74 cases (including foreign cargo truck drivers), there are many sections of the economy that are not fairing well.

The head of state last week on Tuesday extended the lockdown for another 21 days, expiring on May 5. The initial dose of the lockdown was significant in slowing down the spread, but many sections of the society felt pressured into complying with the strict regulations. Boda Boda riders especially felt punished as they were totally banned from distributing luggage beyond 2:00 pm. However, they got some smiles on their faces when the President came back behind the microphone last week and extended their working hours until 5:00 pm. Other non-food businesses were still asked to remain shut.

Now, one part of the informal sector of the economy where thieves belong is greatly affected by the curfews. They seem to have been forced to change their work shifts from night to day as the latter time (7:00 pm to 6:30 am) are exclusively dedicated curfew hours during which only soldiers patrol. While some uncompromising thieves still risk their operation at night, they have mostly failed and been caught by or security operatives.

Two weeks ago, two unidentified young boys jumped over the gate of Mzee Albino in Go Down Village and stole nothing but peanut paste (odii) before they left. Fortunately, Police detectives tracked them down with the help of a K-9— “Police dog” and brought them to book.

Another group of two unnamed youngsters yesterday shamelessly decided to rob in broad daylight. One stole his mother’s goat from Go Down Village, Kitgum Municipality, while the other took a solar panel from another family. Of course, they were arrested and handed over to the former Mayor, Tabu Alex Odongo who ordered some well-built men to castigate them before they were marched to Police.

Today April 25, yet another pair of thieves were chased by the Local Defence Unit (LDU) officers at about 11:00 a.m local time after they were found to have stolen a solar system from a residence not far from the Central Police.

Everywhere in Kitgum, there are numerous cases of confrontation between these burglars and local people or with the forces.

The lockdown is hard for everyone and thieves need to get this right. We all need to endure and resume business once COVID-19 is defeated. We can’t afford to have another form of the virus (COVID-20) even before we have completely done away with COVID-19.

Let your local police know of any suspicious movement of people in your neighbourhood. 

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