MASAKA – A Pastor in Lyantonde district is in trouble for allegedly having links with a criminal gang believed to be involved in armed robberies in the Masaka sub-region.
An investigations, which the Police and the Uganda Peoples Defence Force-UPDF conducted – pointed to Pastor Mark Kaliisa of Souls Healing Centre in Kalegeero trading centre in associating with high-profile armed robbery cases – committed in different parts of the area.
Last Friday, Police arrested Pastor Kaliisa from his home in Katovu sub-County, Lwengo district after he notified the village council leaders how a church member had allegedly abandoned two AK-47 guns at his home.
Before his arrest, Kaliisa told police that he had hosted a mentally ill man at his home for prayers, but out of curiosity, he searched his bag and found two guns.
He claimed that when he attempted to apprehend the man, he fought him off before disappearing through Kalegeero swamp between Lwengo and Lyantonde districts.
But Lt Col Henry Murangira – the Intelligence Officer at the UDPF Armoured Brigade – Kassajagirwa, Masaka said investigations suggest that Kaliisa was an accomplice in acts of armed robberies that are committed in the area.
Speaking during a stakeholders’ security meeting in Kyazanga town council, Lwengo district, Lt Col Murangira noted that they had obtained clues that link Kaliisa to robberies, and that he was trying to forge a confession to dupe security teams that were already tracking the guns.
According to Murangira, the suspect took advantage of the weaknesses of the local security committees at villages and parish levels, to settle in the area where he allegedly coordinated robberies with the different people who are on the run.
He indicated that security teams were pursuing all members of the criminal gang.
Murangira explained that security had resolved to conduct abrupt checks on the local council security committee to assess their levels of vigilance – as a way of solving the growing laxity, which gives room for criminality to thrive.
Pastor Kaliisa was arrested together with a local businessman Suleiman Kakeeto.
However, Kakeeto was on Wednesday released after the security investigations team poked holes in Kaliisa’s statements that were implicating him.
Vincent Birimuye, the LCV Vice Chairperson Lwengo has since advised the village and parish council leaders to desist from the act of allowing new people to settle in their area without thoroughly checking their background.
But Kassim Ssendooza, the chairperson of Lwentale Ward in Kyazanga town council blamed security for always using the reactionary approach to incidences after their occurrence, instead of focusing on prevention and intelligence gathering.
According to Ssendooza, some local security committees are demoralized by the sloppy style of police operations, which they claim was less responsive to alerts from communities.
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