Jinja, Uganda – The Kiira Region Police have successfully intercepted a group of 20 undocumented immigrants from Eritrea. The individuals were allegedly trafficked into Uganda from Kenya, using the Busia border as their entry point. The group, comprising 12 adult males, two women, four girls, and two boys, was discovered at the Nile Bridge aboard a commuter taxi registered under number UBG 751V on the night of August 25, 2023.
The seized vehicle is currently stationed at Jinja CPS parking yard, while the individuals have been temporarily housed at Speke Hotel in Jinja city. An anonymous source familiar with the ongoing investigation has disclosed that the victims embarked on a journey from Eritrea to the Kenyan Busia border by road. The source explained that they entered Uganda in pairs, making use of motorcycles to reach Tororo district. There, they established contact with Sam Etyang, who then organized their onward travel to Kampala by hiring a commuter taxi through Kiiza Mawanda.
Etyang claimed that he learned of a group of tourists from Kenya in need of transportation to Kampala through an undisclosed friend. He accepted the job, agreeing to a commission of Shillings 300,000 upon successful completion. Mawanda, responsible for transporting the victims to Kabalagala in Kampala at Shillings 30,000 each, denies any prior knowledge of the individuals being undocumented immigrants. Both Etyang and Mawanda are currently undergoing investigation for their alleged involvement in human trafficking and trafficking in persons.
James Mubi, the Kiira Regional Police Spokesperson, has revealed that available evidence indicates the involvement of Etyang and Mawanda in a coordinated operation aimed at unlawfully settling the victims within Uganda for unclear purposes. The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) security teams raised the alarm, as the movement of the Eritreans from Busia to Tororo and eventually to Kampala raised suspicions. Mubi noted that none of the intercepted individuals possessed official travel documents or identification from their home country.
However, the group’s leader, a 43-year-old individual, informed investigators that they fled Eritrea due to ongoing persecution and to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Mubi further informed that the police are collaborating with officials from the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), and other intelligence agencies to identify additional individuals involved in this human trafficking syndicate. The ultimate aim is to provide refugee status for these individuals, even considering the potential for improved conditions in their home country.