SERERE – Dramatic scenes played out at the Teso Cooperative Union (TCU) ginnery in Kyere, Serere District when angry residents attempted to lynch six people who were allegedly trying to break into one of the buildings at the facility.
Several people were injured in the commotion including a Primary Seven pupil.
According to the residents and leaders, the group was trying to steal mercury and other precious metals that were allegedly buried in the building by British colonialists in the 1930s.
They added that the group was brought by the TCU chairperson, Mr Elijah Okupa.
The incident took place last Saturday.
The residents said Mr Okupa, who is also the Kasilo County MP, called for a meeting to sensitise the public on a plan to renovate the facility.
However, during the meeting, it was discovered that the six suspects were trying to access the building reported to have the precious metals.
The residents then attacked the group. It is alleged that Mr Okupa’s bodyguards then opened fire to disperse the angry residents.
Mr Patrick Okabe, the Serere County MP, condemned the actions of the group, saying although the property in question belongs to the TCU, it was prudent that the chairperson should have informed the area leaders about their visit.
“I advise all the people who were injured to go and get police medication form, as we seek for legal remedies,” Mr Okabe said.
He added that it is not the first time that suspicious people have attempted break into the facility to get the alleged precious metals.
He identified the injured pupil as Robert Okurut, 15, a Primary Seven pupil of Moruatyang Primary School.
Ms Hellen Adoa, the Serere Woman MP, said at the time of the incident, the boy was returning home from a clinic where he had gone for malaria treatment, only to be hit by a stray bullet.
“The little boy, who is meant to sit for his Primary Seven examinations, has a shattered leg. The others are admitted at Serere hospital,” she said.
Ms Hellen Adoa, the Serere Woman MP, who is also the State minister for Fisheries, said they will hold a meeting with the community tomorrow to find a way forward.
Ms Harriet Nakamya, the Serere Resident District Commissioner, who helped rescue Mr Okupa from the mob, said the MP’s actions are questionable.
“We are glad that we reached the scene on time, otherwise, it would have been something sad,” she added.
Mr John Aisu, who was injured in the ruckus, said all their leaders were not informed.
“We are custodians of the premises. In case there is mercury as alleged, it should be got using the right channels,” Mr Aisu said.
He claimed that the door to the block in question, which is said to be electrified, has so far killed two people who have attempted to break into the building. “That is a no-go zone, truly that place has mercury,” he said.
However, Mr Okupa denied any wrongdoing, saying the six were members of the TCU, who went to the facility with a lawyer to secure some of the properties for the Union.
“Currently, we are doing renovations for all our societies, and equally securing our land under the cooperative union,” he said.
Mr Oscar Ageca, the East Kyoga police spokesperson, said a case file has been opened.