28 June 2012

Tanzania: State to Probe Doctors' Beating

Photo: http://dailynews.co.tz/
Doctors and nurses push an ambulance carrying Dr. Steven Ulimboka, a chairman of the Medical Association of Tanzania. Dr. Ulimboka sustained multiple injuries after being assaulted by unidentified people.

Dodoma — THE government vowed on Wednesday to investigate the beating up of the chairman of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) Steering Committee, Doctor Stephen Ulimboka.

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi, said here on Wednesday that the government had no hand in the incident and would do everything possible to ensure the culprits are brought to book.

"The government has been shocked by this attack having in mind that our country has, for long time, been a peaceful place. We are not used to this kind of behaviour," he said, urging the public to be calm while the authorities are carrying out investigations.

Dr Nchimbi also showed concerns over Officer Commanding Criminal Investigation (OCCID),Mr Mokili who was rudely attacked by people believed to be doctors at Muhimbili Hospital while he was on duty.

THE ongoing countrywide doctors' strike on Wednesday took a new turn as one of their own, Dr Stephen Ulimboka, the chairman of the Medical Association of Tanzania steering committee, was attacked and injured seriously by unknown men wielding guns.

The attack came as the nation awaits the government statement on Thursday on the doctors' strike as promised by the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Activities at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam came to a standstill as Dr Ulimboka's AAR Emergency rescue ambulance T151 AVD, arrived between 10:00 am and 11:00 am on Wednesday at the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) with the injured doctor.

Dr Ulimboka, who was taken to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), suffered multiple rib fractures, a jaw fracture, and concussion.

A man believed to be a plain clothes policeman sustained serious injuries after receiving a heavy beating from doctors and other medical staff, who overheard him informing someone on his walkie-talkie, that Dr Ulimboka was still alive.

Police present at the scene, came to his rescue and whisked him away under heavy security escort. Security forces were deployed at the MNH in full force including Plain clothes police to beef up security.Other plain clothes security agents joined the media fraternity pretending to be journalists.

MAT Chairman Dr Namala Mkopi and the association's Steering committee Secretary General, Dr Edwin Chitage, condemned the attack on Dr Ulimboka saying that this has only increased their determination to continue fighting for their rights.

Dr Mkopi said doctors are fighting to save Dr Ulimboka's life after suffering serious injuries in the hands of his assailants. He condemned police officers for not taking any action once they received reports of the abducted doctor.

Addressing a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Mr Seleiman Kova, said that police were investigating the incident and appealed for calm. He promised that no stone would be left unturned in the process.

"It is a sad day for all of us. It is more so for those who inflicted the serious injuries on Dr Ulimboka with the intention of killing him, but because of his good luck, he survived," he noted.

Dr Chitage said doctors will stand firm in fighting for their rights, including putting themselves in danger of losing their lives, if that is what it will take.Dr Ulimboka was abducted in Kinondoni on Tunisia road, where he was meeting a person identified by one name of Abeid, who associated himself with the State House.

Apparently Abeid had called the doctor, wanting to give him updates on the government stand on the ongoing doctors' strike.

Dr Ulimboka who was also quoted in one of the local radios, went to meet the said person in the company of other colleagues, but were shortly assailed by three gun-wielding men.

"They indeed met the person, but shortly afterwards, three people with guns arrived and took away Dr Ulimboka in a black motor vehicle that had no registration numbers and let the others free," he explained.The assailants drove Dr Ulimboka to Mabwepande forest where they beat him up, pulling some of his teeth. They also extracted some of his finger nails, according to Dr Chitage.

A passerby spotted the injured doctor lying on the roadside where he was abandoned. The passerby used the victim's mobile phone to call one of his colleague, a Dr Deo."The good Samaritan took Dr Ulimboka to Bunju police station, but until we arrived, no effort had been taken by police to provide any kind of assistance to the injured doctor," he added.

The other doctors, who were allowed to go, when Dr Ulimboka was abducted, reported the incident to police and informed Human Rights activists who joined forces to try find the abducted doctor. However, it was until they received the call from the passerby in Bunju that they finally were able to locate the heavily injured medical doctor.

Legal and Human Rights Centre Executive Director Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba has urged the government to conduct an investigation into the attack, to clear itself."From current events, this indicates the government's involvement, so conducting a quick investigation and apprehending those involved so we can know who sent them, will clear the government's involvement," she explained.

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