Disregarding the fact that I haven’t been to the north, which is still not recommended for tourists, Uganda seems incredibly safe.  Most people are so cheerful and are extremely welcoming, which is dangerous in the sense that it is very easy to drop your guard.  Even Kampala is pretty safe, unlike other big cities in east Africa, such as Nairobi (or Nairobbery).  The biggest danger appears to be pickpocketing in the bars and clubs – cameras, phones and money can easily disappear on the crowded dancefloors.  As with anywhere in the world, you have to be sensible and minimise risk.

Here in Kanungu, we are staying in a rural lodge.  We have an armed security guard who patrols at night, but as with burglar alarms in the UK he is there more as a preventative measure to put off potential intruders as opposed to catching them red-handed.  He has about as much work to do as the guy who cleans the trophies at Tottenham!

Incredibly, given how safe this place is, just a couple of weeks ago, several bodies were found buried in a plantation in Kanungu town.  At first, many people believed it to be some kind of black magic ritual, but in fact it seems it was just a case of robbing the victims.  The main evidence for this was that one of the bodies found was of a man who had very recently paid for the delivery of a second-hand car.  Soon after paying, the man went missing; later, both the car and the money were found to be still in the possession of the car owner.  To cut a long story short, a gang were conning prospective victims into buying something, then when they handed over the money they would be killed and buried in the plantation of another gang member.

This was very much an anomaly.  I have to reiterate that Kanungu is one of the safest, friendliest places I have ever been to.  You sometimes even see prisoners (those convicted of petty crimes at least) in their yellow outfits working in the fields.  They are used a cheap labour force.

Prisoners working

Prisoners at work

One reason why Uganda is so safe could be the existence of mob justice.  These mobs are formed to avenge wrongdoing.  They are made up of many people so that even if some members are caught, no-one can accuse them of being the leader.  For example, in the story above about Kanungu, a mob vandalised the home of the suspect in whose plantation the bodies were found.

Bribes allegedly occur in Uganda. If a murderer bribes the police, or knows influential people, he could get a more lenient sentence.  In situations such as this, people will see that justice has not been served so will take matters into their own hands and form a mob.


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