Kiira Region Police have  intercepted 20 illegal Eritrean immigrants, who were reportedly trafficked into Uganda from Kenya through the Busia border. The group consists of 12 adult males, two women, four girls, and two boys. They were intercepted at the Nile Bridge aboard a commuter taxi registration number UGB 751V on the night of August 25, 2023.

The impounded vehicle is parked at Jinja CPS parking yard, while the victims are temporarily accommodated at Speke Hotel in Jinja city. An anonymous source familiar with the investigation revealed that the victims initially traveled by road from Eritrea to the Kenyan Busia border. The source explained that the group crossed into Uganda in pairs. Once in Busia, they rode motorcycles in pairs to Tororo district, where they made contact with Sam Etyang, who arranged their transportation to Kampala by hiring a commuter taxi from Kiiza Mawanda.

Etyang claimed that an undisclosed friend informed him about a group of tourists from Kenya who needed transportation to Kampala. He agreed to the job and would receive a commission fee of Shillings 300,000 upon its successful completion. Mawanda, who was tasked with transporting the victims to Kabalagala in Kampala at Shillings 30,000 each, denied prior knowledge that they were transporting illegal immigrants. Both Etyang and Mawanda are under investigation for their involvement in human trafficking and trafficking in persons.

According to James Mubi, the Kiira Regional Police Spokesperson, available evidence suggests that the duo played a role in a syndicated operation to unlawfully settle the victims in Uganda for unclear purposes. Authorities were alerted to the situation by security teams from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). The movement of the Eritreans from Busia to Tororo, and finally to Kampala, raised suspicions. Mubi stated that none of the victims possessed official travel documents or identification from their home country.

However, the group’s leader, a 43-year-old individual, informed detectives that they fled Eritrea due to ongoing persecution and to seek better opportunities elsewhere. Mubi added 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 more individuals involved in this syndicate of human trafficking. The goal is to provide refugee status for these individuals, despite the potential for peace in their home country.

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