The exchange happened on Monday, July 19, under the supervision of Bondo Deputy County Commissioner Richard Karani, who presided over the exchange as the Kenyan representative.
The fishermen had been arrested by Ugandan officials on Friday, July 16 in Usenge Beach and were driven to the neighboring country where they were detained.
The 18 individuals had been fishing in Lake Victoria prior to being set upon by Ugandan police officers and their boats confiscated.
In the same incident, a Ugandan national had been ordered by Ugandan police officers to transport a different party of Kenyan fishermen to Sigulu Island during the arrests.
The Ugandan national who had donned official Ugandan marine regalia lost direction to Sigulu and in a comedy of errors, asked the Kenyan fishermen in his custody for directions. However, upon realizing he had lost his bearing, the fishermen tricked the Ugandan national by giving him the wrong directions.
They directed him towards Honge Beach where they overpowered him and took custody of him. Police officers rescued him from an angry mob who had intended to execute him.
“They arrested us and took us to an unknown hill…they then took us to a bushy area where they detained us in a house which has iron-roofing,” narrated one of the Kenyan fishermen who had been arrested.
“According to us, we are entitled to 6 percent of Lake Victoria, and it is impossible for us to know where the boundary is when in the waters. We are aware that there are boundaries but they (Uganda) have not placed any physical boundaries to show where their water territory starts,” explained one of the fishermen.
The fishermen had thought that the Ugandan national was a police officer but on further probing, Kenyan police officers found out that he was not an official member of Ugandan authorities.
Kenyan authorities demanded that Ugandan authorities release the detained fishermen, a call which the Ugandan authorities heeded, in exchange for their pseudo-police officer who had been held by Kenyan fishermen during their encounter.
The Ugandan Citizen is identified as Isa Ishmael and according to Bondo Deputy County Commissioner Richard Karani, was merely impersonating a police officer but was not one despite wearing a full Ugandan marine police officer’s uniform. Ugandan authorities had also captured 7 boats which were also released in the exchange.