Campus killing triggers riots

April 12, 2001

More than 1,000 Ugandan students from Makerere University battled with riot police on the streets of the capital, Kampala, last week after the second fatal shooting of a student in the space of four days.

Angry students lit bonfires and blocked the main highway to the campus. They hijacked and set ablaze several vehicles and, in a bizarre incident, grabbed a coffin from a carpentry workshop in the city before the police broke up the demonstration.

The latest victim, Barbara Mwesigye, an information science student, was shot in the head at 4am on April 1 by a man who had posed as a university guard and escorted her to her room after a night out. The gunman allegedly grabbed a camera and two cell phones from the room before fleeing.

The killing occurred less than a week after another student, Robert Mugwanya, was shot dead outside his hostel. Police believe a gang could be behind the murders. They had arrested one suspect several hours before Ms Mwesigye was killed.

President Yoweri Museveni has sent in military police to reorganise campus security. "I have instructed military police to take over duties at Makerere University to strengthen security at the campus and the hostels housing students outside the main campus," he said.

Eight students have been shot dead at the university in the past three years. Three students were shot near the university gates in June 1999, a student was killed near her hostel last November, another was shot dead last December near his hostel, a student was shot near his hall in February this year, Mr Mugwanya was killed in March and Ms Mwesigye was shot last week.

Security is being reviewed by a committee, headed by Uganda's military intelligence director, Lieutenant Colonel Noble Mayombo, city police commander Benjamin Namanya, Major General David Tenyefuza, senior security presidential adviser, and MP Francis Babu.

President Museveni urged students to observe university rules and avoid going out at night. Mobile police patrol units and all university guards have had their duties suspended until further notice.

University spokesman Muhwezi Murari said: "The military is now keeping guard on the university's entry points with strict orders not to allow vehicles to enter the campus unless the drivers are identified."

Taxi drivers without identification papers are forced to drop passengers outside the gates.

Deputy vice-chancellor Opio Epelu said the university would allow sales of beer and other alcohol at the halls of residence so that students did not need to go out. A security fence will be built around the university, he added.

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