Kato Mivule | April 14, 2009
Interesting story that appeared today in Uganda’s Daily Monitor…thieves broke into the multi million dollar ICT facility at Makerere University and took off with computer equipment worth 96 Million Uganda Shillings an equivalent of 50,000 US Dollars. The thieves stole RAM and CPUs.
The ICT Facility has received funding from some of the notable and prestigious I.T companies in the world like IBM, Cisco, Google, and Microsoft among others. The thieves knew that running off with Desktops or Laptops would have them caught that easily and so they resorted to RAM and Processors.
Thugs loot Makerere ICT faculty
Police is hunting for thieves who over the Easter weekend entered the Information and Communication Technology faculty at Makerere University and stole computer accessories worth over Shs96 million. The Police say the burglars did not break into the building but smartly found their way in. The robbery is captured in the Police’s Easter weekend crime statistics.
Kampala Metropolitan Police arrested 285 people on allegations of terrorising the city and its suburbs during the festive season. Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said the suspects are being held on offences ranging from theft of mobile phones, roguish behaviour and robbery.
“Among the arrested are 18 women and we have already sent their files to the Resident State Attorney for advice,” Ms Nabakooba said yesterday. On the Makerere robbery, she said, “Suspected thugs entered the fourth and fifth floors of the faculty and made off with 202 Random Access Memory (RAM) chips and 280 processors worth Shs96.4 million.”
RAM is a chip on which data is stored temporality in a computer. The Police said seven people had been arrested in connection to the incident that happened on Monday at around 9:30pm. They are being held at Wandegeya Police Station. The seven are Mr Bashir Turyahebwa, an Ultimate Security guard, Mr Charles Komakech, a university guard, Mr Mathias Luhima, a laboratory custodian and four laboratory attendants James Omach, John Bosco Tumusiime, Amos Kagaba and B. Mwesigye.
“The thugs didn’t break in but gained entry peacefully which means they either had master keys or keys to the premises. These thugs also opened the doors of the administrators but didn’t take anything,” Ms Nabakooba said.She said the Police had not yet recovered the stolen property.
It was not clear what impact this theft had on the operations of the faculty. Efforts to get to the dean and faculty publicist proved futile as none of them could pick their phones.
Despite the university deploying a big number of security guards, the campus has become prone to crimes ranging from theft and office break-ins. This is the fourth time computer equipment is stolen at the Makerere University in less than a year. The first incident happened in the Faculty of Arts last year.
The crimes forced the Police management to upgrade the university post to a station in order to combat rising crime. Meanwhile, the Police yesterday arrested 14 people on allegations of carrying out mob action that left three people died in Bujuuko in Wakiso District. The suspects, including the LC defence secretary George Wamanya, are accused of killing Moses Kimbowa, Ronald Musisi and George Njub, whom they accused of practicing witchcraft.
However, this brings into question the overall security that the multi million dollar facility. According to the Press Reports, the thieves did not cause any damage or ‘misplace’ any other Item, they only zeroed in on RAM chips and Processors. The thieves are said to have entered “peacefully” according to the Ugandan Press…it seemed they had “master keys” or duplicate keys and found their way inside the multi million dollar facility “peacefully”.
It sounds comical that thieves could make their way “peacefully” into a major African University without any intervention of the Campus Security. This certainly spells out some ‘collaboration’ over this ‘thieving project’, between the Campus Security Guards, some I.T Staff, and perhaps some students.
The thieves were very knowledgeable about Computers that they surgically let expensive laptops, desktops, and servers and instead settled down on RAM chips and Processors. They knew that they could sell off any of these items without being traced.
However, the main laps in security is with the Makerere ICT Department heads as they have certainly neglected Physical Security as an important component in the overall security of I.T. Secondly, the ICT Department Heads where negligent in handling High-end computer components like DIMMs and Processors.
Yet at the same time the ICT Department is not doing that bad, their policies so far have thwarted the abilities of thieves in stealing expensive desktops, laptops, and servers, among other hardware items. It shows that the Makerere ICT Department can improve on its overall I.T security by placing more emphasis of physical security.