Kenyan fishermen suffer at the hands of the Ugandan army - Beaking Kenya News

Beaking Kenya News

Where It All Happens

Breaking Kenya News


Monday, 12 August 2019

Kenyan fishermen suffer at the hands of the Ugandan army

Rajab Daudi Ongoma had been fishing in Lake Victoria for four decades to two months ago when Ugandan security officers brutally stopped their only source of livelihood.

The 60-year-old Port Victoria resident, Budalang'i Constituency, was in the company of five of his colleagues at the lake when he was arrested.

Men dressed in military took their boat and pulled him to Dolwe Island where the six men were tortured. "They told us that the punishment for illegal fishing in their waters was 100 cane blows. They whipped us and left us hungry in the waters for 12 hours.

"When we complained, they told us to eat raw fish and after that they beat us again," said the old man.

They were placed on a Ugandan ship 24 hours later and taken to Budalang'i with a warning not to be seen again in Uganda "if you value your life".

Mr Ongoma is part of the statistics of the fishermen who have been persecuted by Ugandan security officials.

They were whipped, forced to eat raw fish, confiscated by boat, and forced to pay a hefty fine while some spent weeks or months in dirty police cells.


In an interview with the Nation on the Marenga beach in Port Victoria, Mr Ongoma said Ugandan people continue to change fishing regulations with the sole purpose of evicting Kenyans.

"There are more than 300 boat engines and thousands of fishing nets on islands which are manned by Ugandan People's Defense Forces (UPDF) troops," he said.

Kenyans have also experienced terrible trials on the islands of Hama, Lubia, Masuria, Bwonja, Munene and Sigulu.

Sylvester Ouro, a fisherman from Sisenye, has been detained by Uganda twice for using illegal vessels.

According to him, Ugandan officials insisted on a 48-foot boat, "which is very expensive in terms of purchase and maintenance compared to the 28ft canoe owned by most Kenyans".

Another requirement is the size of nine hooks, which are intended to catch large fish. "They arrested me in May and pulled my boat to Munene Island where I was forced to kneel in water for about two hours and forced to eat my catch," Ouro said.

"They hit my face, stomach and back when I refused to do what I was told."

Illegal arrest

He added that by being whipped and told to eat raw fish, officials said they were helping him.

Hard directions were reported to have been issued in Mayuge, Namaingo, and Sigulu last year when President Yoweri Museveni met with the fishing community.

"They left me on the island without food, clothing and boats. I am saved by God's grace, "Mr. Ouro, who has not yet returned to the lake, remembers.

The fisherman questioned said the confiscated equipment had never been brought to a Ugandan court as evidence. "Most fishermen produce at least 50,000 to get their equipment back. Some have sold household goods and their livestock to increase the amount, "he said.

UPDF officers routinely cross to Kenya to catch the fishermen. It happened on the island of Sumba on the coast of Budalang'i and Bumbe in Samia.

Mr. Ben Wandera from Buduong'i in Funyula told how he swam five kilometers to avoid capture.

"I jumped into the lake when Ugandan armed officers approached. They took over the ship, but we are near Majanji beach, "he said.


Three of his colleagues were arrested and taken to a detention camp in Uganda. "There are about 10 officers on an ordinary ship and have weapons and panga," he said.

Fishermen in Busia ask Kenyan authorities to protect them from harassment. "There are no police officers on the islands of Sumba, Mageta, Ringiti, Remba and Migingo," Ouro said.

Chairman of the Busia Regency Coastal Management Unit Network Sylvester Kaywa asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to help more than 26,000 fishermen spread across 20 beaches.

"Many fishermen are unemployed. Kenya has become a hostage in their own country. Fish

No comments: