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CAUSES OF JUVENILE CRIME

I was able to interview 110 juveniles who were remanded at Nagulu detention centre to understand the main causes of delinquency in Uganda. The Nagulu detention centre is located in the city centre of Kampala. There were only six girls and 134 boys. Based on the interviews, the following issues were identified as being the main causes of juvenile crime.

Theft Due to Adult Influence and Necessity

Some of the juveniles were in the centre for stealing. The thefts ranged from minor thefts to more major ones. For example, some juveniles interviewed were involved in housebreaking but were working with adult criminals. The adults used the children to gain access to the houses by making them pass through narrow openings where more mature people could not pass. The adults gave them part of the earnings from the theft. Other juveniles were involved in pickpocketing on the streets. One of the juveniles interviewed seems to have stolen out of necessity. He stated:

I was staying with my grandmother. She fell sick and yet she was the one who was fending for me. Subsequently, I had to go to the neighbour who is rich, to beg for food. Our neighbour ignored me but I spotted some food in some store near the garage. When I saw him driving out and the maid also moved out, I climbed the gate and picked a basket full of various food stuffs. I opened the gate from inside but as I was getting out, another neighbour saw me. He informed the maid who in turn called her boss. The boss returned with police and I was arrested with the food. I had started cooking part of the food. My grandmother eventually died.

Necessity is not a defence in a crime of theft in Uganda.

 
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