KAMPALA- The Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth Ochola has dispatched a of investigating team jointly headed by Director Operations, AIGP Edward Ochom, and the Director Traffic and Road Safety, to thoroughly investigate circumstances under which Walugembe Hussein, a 25 year old casual worker and night watchman, committed suicide inside an office at Masaka Police Station.
Walugembe is reported to have burnt himself to death after several failed attempts to reclaim his motorcycles registration number UDL 591R after two days.
According to the Uganda Police Spokesman Fred Enanga preliminary investigations indicate that the motorcycle was impounded on 30th June, 2020, by Sgt Ewalu Julius, after it was found parked at a Petrol Station that was undergoing construction, where the victim (now deceased), worked as a local night guard.
It’s reported that the deceased had bought the motorcycle one week before, and had given it to his friend called Kaweesi Twaha of Masaka City, since he never knew how to ride.
Enanga explained that the deceased was therefore, not a bodaboda rider as alleged in the media and on 1st July 2020, he went to Masaka Police Station to reclaim his motorcycle, and returned on 2nd July 2020, but all in vain.
It has also been established that the late Walugembe was also employed by Namanya Rogers who supplied food to suspects in custody at Masaka Police Station and also performed several odd jobs at Masaka Police Station.
It’s reported that on the 2nd July 2020, the rider, Kaweesi Twaha, had raised Ugx. 40,000 to give to Sgt. Ssesanga Ibrahim, but the deceased rejected the move saying that he was well known at the Police Station and therefore hoped they would return the motorcycle without paying the money.
Enanga explained that it was after he was frustrated by the Acting OC Traffic that he went and bought petrol from Mogus Petrol Station and set himself a blaze and he allegedly attempted to grab the officer, so that they die together, but he escaped with minor burns, leaving the victim behind.
Enanga has said that the act of suicide at the Police Station is evidence of lack of vigilance by some of commanders and so far two officers who were insensitive to the plea of the victim have been arrested for exerting pressure on the victim to part with a Ugx 40,000 alleged bribe for the release of his motorcycle.
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Enanga said that Sgt Ewalu Julius, the Station Major and Sgt Ssesanga Ibrahim, the Acting OC Traffic Masaka have been arrested for acting negligently and unreasonably in holding the motorcycle without explanation or issuance of an Express Penalty Scheme (EPS) ticket.
Enanga also said that the task team is also investigating possible breach of police duties, negligent supervision, and failure to follow police procedures, failure to provide medical and life saving response to the victim and integrity related concerns of extortion and bribery at Masaka Police Station.
Meanwhile the Inspector General of Police has extended his heartfelt condolence and prayers to the immediate family, friend and relatives of Hussein Walugembe.
The Inspector General of Police has further instructed the Directorate for CPC and Legal/HRS to conduct special gate-keeping training’s for all police officers, on the basics of recognizing and responding to the warning signs of suicide and emphasis will be put on front-line officers and trust first line supervisors because of their day-to-day contact with fellow officers and the public.
“This is because a substantial proportion of the people whom we arrest or whose property is seized and exhibited, may be at an elevated risk of suicide and therefore, recognizing the behavioral patterns and other warning signs that indicate a person may be at risk of suicide or other emotional problems, is crucial in our everyday policing activities” The IGP Ochola said in his Communication.
In addition all Community Liaison Officers have been further instructed to interstate in their community sensitization and awareness programs, suicide prevention training’s to the communities, business groups and individuals under their jurisdiction.
According to the Police the following warning signs may mean someone is at risk of suicide.
1. Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself.
2. Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as buying a murder weapon, poison or drugs.
3. Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
4. Talking about being a burden to others
Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
5. Acting anxious or agitated by behaving recklessly.
6. Sleeping too little or too much
7. Withdrawing or feeling isolated
8. Talking about revenge
9. Displaying extreme mood swings.
Enanga said that all the above signs are critical if the individual has attempted suicide in the past or has a history of a current problem with depression, alcohol or post-traumatic stress disorders.
Enanga however said that despite this very regrettable incident, the Uganda Police Force would like to reiterate that it is made up of a majority of officers of integrity who pride themselves on high standards of discipline and professionalism to keep our country safe.