Witness accounts of bullion van robbery


KAMPALA. Two days after Internal Security Organisation (ISO) shot dead two suspected hijackers of a Stanbic Bank bullion van at Kyambogo, a city suburb, witnesses yesterday gave conflicting accounts of what happened.
The witnesses refuted the police and ISO accounts of what exactly transpired.
Although ISO had told police that the robbers were killed fleeing the scene, a police officer told this newspaper that the two bodies of the suspects, including that of an ex-soldier attached to Special Forces Command (SFC), Pte Bright Turyatunga, were found slumped on one another.
The incident happened at the junction between Lower Kyambogo Road and a murram road leading to Ntinda Industrial Park, which is in between Face Technologies and Megha Industries.
Another witness said the incident seemed to have been planned to be executed at the exact spot, basing his argument on the fact that there were two casually dressed men who allegedly kept loitering near the scene as early as 3pm.
“They first stood together facing towards Jinja highway and separated afterwards. They resurfaced during the shooting incident,” the witness said.
Daily Monitor could not independently verify this claim.
A security guard, who was off duty at the time of the incident, said a white pickup truck blocked a bullion van in a distance of about 100m just opposite the entrance of Royal Form mattresses. Then, two men appeared from nowhere and walked very fast towards Face Technologies but were stopped by three other men who jumped from a pickup truck and forced them to lie down. Witnesses said the victims obliged and put their hands up.
“They walked closer to them and first engaged them. About two minutes later, one was shot through the back. They continued talking to another,” a witness said.
Although a police officer (names withheld) told this newspaper that it was the ISO pickup truck that blocked the bullion van, the ISO director general, Col Frank Kaka Bagyenda, had told journalists on Wednesday that the suspects had trailed the bullion van from Mukono.
However, he did not explain whether they were using a motorcycle (s) or a car even as other witnesses insist that the suspects were on foot.
Other witnesses told Daily Monitor that as the armed men were still talking to the remaining man, two motorcycles parked near the blocked bullion van. “I saw two motorcycles being loaded with bags that were being removed from a bullion van. Some men had opened one side of the behind door of the bullion van. There were only two vehicles at the scene. A bullion van and a pick-up truck,” another witness said.
Witnesses added that as three police officers from Lower Kyambogo Police Post emerged from a road opposite Face Technologies, the remaining suspect, whom the three armed men were speaking to, was also shot twice.
“I am a trained security officer and I know how a person shot in motion would land on the ground. There is no way two running men could be shot and they slump on each other. The gun force would have made them stagger in different positions. These were killed when as I was watching and they had already surrendered,” a police officer insisted.
Another police detective, who spoke to Daily Monitor last evening on condition of anonymity, described the incident as “a movie of the month” and joked that in his police career he had never seen people shot in motion slumping on each other.
“The whole story is not adding up. There was no third vehicle at this scene. If they say the robbers were running away, does it mean they had already abducted the bullion van? If the bullion van was blocked by operatives, then how did the driver escape? If they trailed the robbers who were driving close to the bullion van, then how was the missing money removed from the bullion van they were closely monitoring from Mukono?”
Col Bagyenda did not answer repeated calls last evening to explain the contradictions. He had, however, revealed that they recovered Shs2.4b in notes, nine bags of coins worth Shs2.5m and 5,000 pounds (about Shs23m) stolen by some of the thugs who were yet to be arrested.


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