Joint investigations conducted by Police and the Uganda Peoples Defense Force-UPDF have pinned a Pastor in Lyantonde district to having links with a criminal gang that is involved in armed robberies in the Masaka sub-region.
The suspect is Pastor Mark Kaliisa of Souls Healing Center in Kalegeero trading center who has been linked with high-profile armed robbery cases that are committed in different parts of the area.
Police arrested Pastor Kaliisa from his home in Katovu Sub County, Lwengo district on Friday last week, after he notified the village council leaders of a church member who allegedly abandoned two AK-47 guns at his home.
Prior 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 alleged that when he attempted to apprehend the man, he fought him before disappearing through Kalegero swamp between Lwengo and Lyantonde districts.
But Lieutenant Colonel Henry Murangira, the Intelligence Officer at the UDPF Armored Brigade Kassijagirwa, Masaka says that their investigations suggest that Kaliisa is 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 have 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 still on the run.
He indicates that security teams are pursuing all members of the criminal gang.
Murangira explains that security has 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 instructed the village and parish council leaders to stop allowing new people to settle in their area without introduction letters from their previous areas of residence.
But Kassim Ssendooza, the Chairperson of Lwentale Ward in Kyazanga town council has blamed security for always using the reactionary approach to incidences after they have occurred, instead of focusing many efforts on prevention and intelligence gathering.
According to Ssendooza, some local security committees are being demoralized by the sloppy style of police operations which they say is less responsive to community alerts from communities.