MPs Question Police’s “kawunyemu” Operations

Andrew Kaweesi

Kayihura-and Kampala-Metropolitan Commander Andrew-Kaweesi
Kayihura-and Kampala-Metropolitan Commander Andrew-Kaweesi

Members of Parliament on the Defence Committee on Tuesday put police officers on the spot to explain their operation against drink driving.

The MPs wanted police to provide proof that most accidents are caused at night by people under the influence of alcohol and not during day time.

Early this year, police launched an operation to arrest and apprehend people who drive while under the influence of alcohol, a move that is popularly known as “kawunyemu.”

Kalungu West MP Ssewungu Gonzanga quoted Article 27 of the Constitution on the rights to privacy of person, home and other property. He particularly quoted section two which states that no person shall be subjected to interference with the privacy, that persons home, correspondence, communication or other property.

Ssewungu said what police has been doing is embarrassing people through their arrests and that some officers extort huge sums of money ranging between 300,000 shillings and one million from suspects.
But Andrew Kaweesi, the Kampala Metropolitan police commander, tried to explain that the Traffic and Road Safety Act 1998 provides how police can determine who is drunk and the alcoholic level in the body. The act also allows police to use a breathalyzer and see how much alcohol one has consumed.

Ajuri County MP Hamson Obua also quoted the same act and differed with Kaweesi saying the law is specific and that an arrest can only occur when someone is under the influence of alcohol or a drug to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor vehicle.

Obua argues that the police is following rules made by the Kampala Traffic boss Lawrence Niwabine.
This did not go down well with Nanding Christine, the Assistant head of the Police Legal Department, who decided to take on the MPs and asked that they interpret the law clearly.

Kaweesi, who did not have concrete statistics, quoted the 2012 figures stating that along Entebbe Road 85 percent of accidents were caused by drink driving.  In March 2013 the accidents had reduced to 60 percent adding that the police will come out with proper details on the matter.

He also acknowledged that there were cases of extortion, favouritism and differences in time suspects spend while under arrest. He told MPs the police have agreed that whoever is arrested on Friday is supposed to be detained until the following day on Saturday at 10:00am when they are released, but on condition that they leave their vehicles at the police station and go to court on Monday.

He promised that they are going to deal with police officers who are extorting money from the public.

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