How to survive when kidnapped in Kampala

The pearl of Africa has been plagued with a rise in kidnap cases in the past two months. In the month February alone, there have been six missing people reports, as compared to statistics from 2017 were a total of 24 cases were reported.

The nation woke to the tragic end to the kidnap of Susan Magara, 28 who had been missing for almost 3 weeks when her body was recovered in the Kigo area off the new Entebbe southern bypass. Her captors had demanded a ransom of one million dollars in exchange for her release. How the captors were able to hold her for three weeks while making numerous phone calls with clear undisguised voices that the security organs have the capability to intercept and trace is embarrassing. Sadly a young vibrant lady was gone.

Since the security forces can’t protect ordinary citizens, I have done some research so that in the unfortunate event that you or I are kidnapped, we have a chance at survival.


Patrick Agaba, the lead suspect in the kidnap and murder of Susan Magara

  • Try to thwart the abduction. If you are in a position to raise an alarm and alert people around you, please do. If you can disentangle yourself from your abductors and outrun them, this is your chance. Your ordeal would have ended right there. However try to think rationally, if there are multiple attackers, armed, you have no choice but to comply.
  • You are scared, your heart is pounding, and adrenaline takes over but try to remain calm. This is a life or death situation and your survival depends on your ability to stay calm.
  • Be observant. Use your five senses to gather and memorize as much information as possible about your captors and your environment. Try to visualize the route, make note of turns and stops, sounds and smells. This information is useful to help you plan an escape, arrest your captors or even send out a message to you could be rescuers. If possible, leave subtle clues that are difficult to be noticed by your captors but discoverable by people searching for you. You can drop an earring, a hair or anything that can be easily recognized by someone who knows you.
  • Try to find out why you are the victim. There are a variety of reasons why you are taken. If they are holding you for a ransom, you are more useful alive than dead. If you are abducted by a serial killer or sexual predator, your abductor intends to kill you. Plan your escape according to that information.

Try to know what your kidnappers want, is it money or revenge?

  • Keep a positive survival attitude, pray, sing, whatever picks up your spirit. Take it one day at a time.
  • Try to make a connection with your captor within reason. Don’t make threats, don’t insult them. Yes, they are pathetic and disgusting but in this survival mode, it’s better to keep those thoughts within.
  • Be a good listener. Try to find out more about your captor, their story, what they have to say. Pretend to be emphatic, they shall feel comfortable around you. If they have simple problems you can help them solve, egg if you are a nurse and one of them gets a cut, treat it. Or if you are tech savvy and they have a phone issue, offer advice, you can even use that opportunity to send a message out.
  • If you are being held with other captives, talk to them as covertly as possible. Develop codes and signals. Together you may be able to plan and execute a successful escape. It is also important to blend in with them. Do not stand out especially as the troublemaker.
  • Keep track of time and try to take note of patterns. Observing your captors patterns i.e. when they come in, when they go, how long they are gone etc. this can help you to execute an escape plan.
  • Take note of signs. If your captors decide that that shall kill you, you need to know as soon as possible. If they stop feeding you, treat you more harshly, if they are suddenly desperate or they show you their face when previously they were wearing masks. It’s worth risking trying to escape because if you stay they shall still kill you.
  • Escape. Most times it is safer to just wait and be freed. However if you have a solid plan and a perfect opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it. Also escape if you are certain they are going to kill you.
  • If a rescue attempt is made, stay away from the action as far as possible. This includes hiding away from your captors, staying away from windows and doors that may be used by the rescuers to breach the building. Find a place to hide like under a table. When the rescuers get to you, don’t make sudden movements. They might be high on adrenaline and probably shoot and ask questions later.
  • when you are finally free, use the information you gathered to help law enforcement to build a strong case against your captors so that they rot in jail

It’s my prayer this article acts as a guide should you find yourself in such times.

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