13 November 2012

Uganda: School Ordered to Pay Sh25 Million for Drowned Student

The High Court in Kampala has ordered Hana Mixed Secondary School to pay sh25m as compensation to a parent whose son Godfrey Mugwe,19, Wamiti drowned in the school swimming pool on August 25, 2007.

In the judgement of Justice Vincent Musoke-Kibuuka delivered on Monday by the court's civil division registrar Eudes Ketirima, he noted that the deceased's parents had lost an investment.

"Court was convinced that the boy's life had taken a promising shape, he was deprived of a measure of happiness owing to the school's negligence to which his life was prematurely terminated at its prime.Therefore sh25m is reasonable for loss of expectations of life," the judge stated.

The judge remarked that the deceased's parents placed him in the expensive private school, as they hoped he would attain more traits and good character. The mixed boarding school is located in Nsangi,Wakiso district.

The case arose in September 2007, when the deceased's father Martin Kungu Wamiti sued for damages. However on February 12, 2008, the deceased's parents and the school consented and the the parents were paid sh9.7m as special damages. But both parties were deadlocked on general damages, when the family demanded sh64m, while school offered sh7m.

Subsequently, the judge asked the school lawyers Luzige-Kamya, Kavuma and Company Advocates, plus the father's lawyers Maranga and Company Advocates, to file written submissions.

Last year in September, a similar tragic incident occured at the school, when another student Jeremiah Oitu, drowned in the swimming pool.His parents accused the school of negligence.

This year in September, a toddler Sunshine Baraza died after drowning in a swimming pool at Acorns Pre and Primary International School in Bukoto. It was her first day in school.

Currently, the Education ministry has no specific policy guidelines on construction of swimming pools in schools. With such a facility being a preserve of the posh schools, few schools can afford it. The public has criticised the ministry for laxity in ensuring safety and strict monitoring standards.

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