Uganda police to protect pilgrims

Monday May 20 2019

Pilgrims from Gulu walk to Namugongo ahead of

Pilgrims from Gulu walk to Namugongo ahead of the Martyr’s day celebrations on 3rd June. On Saturday, they made a stopover at Immaculate Mary Queen of Martyrs Kigumba Catholic Parish where they spent a night. PHOTO BY BADRU KATUMBA 

Kampala. As hundreds of people from various corners of the country trek to Namugongo Martyrs Shrines, ahead of the June 3 Martyrs Day, the Inspector General of Police, Mr Martins Okoth-Ochola has directed police commanders to deploy officers on major routes that are being used by the pilgrims.

In an Internal memo signed by Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mr Asuman Mugenyi, Mr Ochola has tasked regional, district and division commanders to ensure that pilgrims who are trekking to Namugongo are safe.

“As you are aware, pilgrims have started arriving for Martyrs Day celebrations at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine, you are directed to ensure security for pilgrims who have already arrived and those still on the way,” Mr Ochola’s memo reads in part.

Police units tasked to protect pilgrims include Kampala Metropolitan Police which has over 2,000 Field Force Unit police officers; the Counterterrorism Unit which has close to 1,000 cops in Kampala and other police officers in the general police section.

Martyrs Day celebrations often attract more than 2 million people from Uganda and various countries like Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others.

Mr Ochola has also ordered police commanders to deploy motorised and foot patrol in their territories to avoid incidents of criminals attacking pilgrims and motorists knocking them.

Uganda is set to host pilgrims from all over the world for Africa’s biggest pilgrimage on the Uganda Martyrs Day on June 3.

In the middle of every year, over a million pilgrims descend on Namugongo on the outskirts of Kampala. The Martyrs Day celebration has become Uganda’s signature tourism event for different denominations and Africa’s largest pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage usually start two weeks to the day. Those from within Uganda or even some neighbouring countries normally trek on foot. In 1885 Buganda’s Kabaka Mwanga ordered the killing of 45 young Christian converts after they refused to denounce their faith. (NMG)