By David Okema
Gulu Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Captain Santo Okot Lapolo has cautioned Balaalo in Gulu district from threatening violence against locals.
Capt Lapolo was speaking yesterday during a meeting with Balaalo and land owners in Oroko village in Palaro sub county, Gulu district.
The Balaalo are a cattle keeping group that roams with their animals looking for pasteur. But their presence in areas where they go has always led to friction with locals as some of the Balaalo are alleged to be armed.
The RDC’s meeting with residents of Oroko and the Balaalo came after reports emerged that the cattle keepers had threatened to shoot a land owners whose crops had been destroyed by cows belonging to the Balaalo.
Kahirwa Godfrey, a resident of Bweyale in Masindi district who has over 500 heads of cattle in Adele village in Palaro sub country rubbished claims that his worker, a one Yuwasi had threatened to shoot a member of the family of Maracelo Ocheng. The Ocheng family lives in Adele village.
“This man cannot have a gun,’’ said Kihirwa while pointing at Yuwasi.
‘‘He is just a worker. He is paid by milk and milk is his salary and he cannot have a gun to protect milk,” Kahirwa added.
When RDC Lapolo asked: ‘‘Where is Yuwasi?”. Yuwasi stood up at attention like soldiers usually do prompting Lapolo to ask: ‘‘Are you a soldier or a former soldier? I am a Captain. I know how soldiers behave.’’
Yuwasi, speaking on only Kiswahili, denied he was a soldier.
Kahirwa, the owner of the 500 herds of cattle said the family of Maracelo Ocheng is jealous because he [Kihirwa] had rented land from them to graze his cows for a period of one year paying him[Marcelo Ocheng] 4 million shillings. But the contract between he [Kihirwa] and Maracelo Ocheng had expired.
Kahirawa then moved on and rented land from a one Anthony Sinamakosa.
Mr Sinamakosa told the meeting that he had never seen Balaalo with guns on his 500 acres of land [which he is renting to the cattle keepers).
Sinamakosa said that some neighbors and politicians whom he declined to name are jealous and are intruding into what they don’t understand. He said his family is getting revenue from the cattle keepers whom he entered into a contractual agreement with.
Recently, the Gulu district Vice Chairman Peter Oola threated to chase the Balaalo from Gulu.