Renowned security analyst Fred Egesa has described
as a mere gamble, the composite photos of wanted suspects often released by police.
The response comes a few days after Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga, released composite photos of two men who allegedly planted an Improvised Explosive
Device (IED) which exploded in Komamboga, a suburb of Kampala, leaving one person dead. Unknown people detonated an IED on October 23 at
around 9 pm in Komamboga, Kawempe Division.
According to security, the leisure centre
had more than 300 people drinking and watching a Premier League match. And, based
on witnesses’ descriptions of the suspects, police came up with two composite
images and urged the public to help in tracing for the culprits.
Egesa told Uganda Radio Network (URN) that the Uganda police still gambles on
what a vital area of criminal investigations and suspect identification. “It is a kind of trend we should develop. But for now,
I think we are at a gambling stage. It needs to be developed. Our teams are
still at an elementary stage. Such skills have been used abroad and since we
are just starting up, we should improve,” Egesa said.
//Cue in; “I remember…
A composite image is crafted using the description given
by a witness to develop a drawing that could help to identify or rule out a
suspect. This is the fifth time that the police have released composite
photos of suspects in terror-related incidents or assassinations of prominent persons.
In 2017, police released three graphic images of men they claimed had shot and
killed Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Andrew Felix Kaweesi
alongside his driver Godfrey Wambewo and bodyguard Kenneth Erau. Although the Police Flying Squad Unit (FSU), Internal Security
Organisation (ISO) and Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) arrested
dozens of people in regard to AIGP Kaweesi murder, none of them was arrested
with the help of photo illustrations.
Enanga has acknowledged that they did not arrest anyone
resembling the composite photos released for Kaweesi murder. Other photographic
illustrations were displayed after the murder of State Prosecutor Joan Kagezi
in 2015. To date, no suspect has ever been released in connection to Kagezi
//Cue in; “during the…
The only successful composite image used in Uganda, according to a
senior detective who preferred anonymity was during the investigations of the July
11, 2021 twin bombings in Kampala.
“This digital description which we released to the
public during 2010 bombs was developed with help of Federal Bureau of
Investigations (FBI). The FBI flew in because some of the victims were US
nationals. They helped us to develop an accurate composite image. It is that
image that we used to arrest the first suspect and it helped us to get all other
suspects,” a detective said.
In June this year, President Yoweri Museveni expressed
concern over the police’s failure to retain people with unique skills such as
handwriting and composite image experts. This was after Senior Commissioner of
Police (SCP) Samuel Ezati, was unceremoniously retired. Nevertheless, Enanga released a statement explaining
that Ezati applied for a contract renewal while at CID Headquarters but the
Police Authority did not find any exceptional grounds to renew his contract.
“The capabilities of facial reconstruction are carried
out under CID supported by the fingerprint and photography section. They are responsible
for the photographic facial description of criminals and wanted persons, using
the modern photofit software,” Enanga said. The photofit software enables experts to frame facial
features such as the ears, eyes, nose mouth hair and forehead, which are
transformed into a composite picture of a face as described by witnesses.
Police had two photofit analysts; Corporal Okongo and Corporal Nasur Mugega. But Mugega
deserted in July 2018 accusing the force of paying him peanuts. At the time of
Mugega’s departure, he had been contracted and appointed Inspector of Police with
very vital access controls.
Joseph Kato is currently a Master's candidate at Makerere University. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Kampala International University, a Diploma in Journalism and he's also a graduate in Guidance and Counseling.