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Four Ugandans arrested for harassing Kenyan fishermen

By Robert Amalemba | Dec 23rd 2021 | 2 min read

Some of the Ugandans who were arrested and held at the Port Victoria Police station in Bundalang'i for harassing Kenyan fishermen.[Mumo Munuve, Standard]

Four Ugandans, including a soldier, were arrested this morning after crossing into Kenyan waters in Lake Victoria and harassing local fishermen.

The Ugandans, who are being held at Port Victoria Police Station,  reportedly detained ten Kenyan fishermen and were demanding Sh30,000 from each one of them in the 3am incident on Thursday.

"The Kenya Coast Guard Service officers received an alert that the foreigners had captured ten of our citizens and were demanding a bribe of Sh30,000 from each one of them before setting them free. The officers moved swiftly and thwarted their plans, first, by disarming the military man who had an AK-47 rifle and an axe before the four suspects were taken into police custody," said Bunyala OCPD Peterson Nyakundi.

He added: “The four were in Uganda People Defense Force uniform and posed as soldiers to the hapless fishermen in the deep seas.”

The suspects identified as Maniko Pharaoh, Joseph Mwasereka, Peter Obwowa, and Mohamed Mwanje held the Kenyans in a wooden canoe that was heading to the Ugandan side when the coast guards caught up with them.

The Kenya Coast Guard Service is a specialised maritime force responsible for law enforcement on Kenyan waters, including on the oceans, lakes, and rivers. The force is mandated to maintain maritime safety, security, pollution control, and sanitation. It is also responsible for apprehending and prosecuting offenders.

Nyakundi confirmed the fishermen were in good health and their fishing gear intact. By the time he was addressing journalists, the fishermen were at Port Police Station recording statements.

It was not clear whether the soldiers had been deployed by the Fisheries Protection Unit – Uganda’s body that governs fishing on the lake.

“We will arraign them once we are done with investigations,” said Nyakundi.

Omondi Ndeke, the secretary of Bunyala Beach Management Network, lamented Kenyan fishermen had been subjected to harassment in the lake for a long time and called for a lasting solution.

“Kenyan fishermen have lost over Sh2.5 million through extortion over the past two months. As we speak, five of our fishermen and five boats have been detained in Uganda,” said Ndeke.

Ndeke said that the extortionists have M-Pesa lines ready and called on the police to investigate and establish Kenyans who help them register the lines.

In July, fishermen in Bondo arrested a man, identified as Mgambe Ismael, dressed in Ugandan army uniform and handed him to the police on claims of harassment.

At least 18 Kenyan fishermen had been arrested and six boats impounded by the Ugandan security personnel.

Kenyan fishermen have undergone horrifying ordeals on Hama, Lubia, Masuria, Bwonja, Munene and Sigulu islands.

There are more than 26,000 fishermen spread across the 20 beaches in Budalang’i sub-county where the ten fishermen came from.

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