29 November 2018

Uganda: Homosexuality - Parent Sues Smack Over Son's Dismissal

The parent of a former senior one student of St Mary's College Kisubi (SMACK) has sued the school for "illegally dismissing" their son on allegations of homosexuality. On June 20, 2018, SMACK expelled the 12-year-old for allegedly sodomising another senior one student.

See: Gay sex: Kisubi faces court for sacking student, The Observer, November 7. In a civil suit No. 466 of 2018 filed in the High court on November 16, the parent claims that the school administration chased their son without conducting any investigations in the matter or even first notifying the ministry of Education. The suit, seen by The Observer, shows that the High court acknowledged receipt on November 20, 2018.

"The plaintiff brings this suit as the next friend to the child [being of minority age] ... against the defendant for a declaration that the dismissal of [the child] from the school was illegal and irregular," the parent's plaint reads in part.

It has been filed on their behalf by Senkeezi-Ssali Advocates and Legal Consultants. The parent further contends that when dismissing the child, his property was just jettisoned out of the school gate and was left to spend the rest of the night out in the cold in addition to subjecting him to severe assaults by a gang of students.

"His assailants even demanded and made him write stating that he has participated in the alleged homosexual acts in the statement they made him to record," reads the plaint.

Also, no dismissal letter was issued; no refund of the monies spent for the plaintiff's son to report to school for second term (which had just run for two weeks) was made or promised to be made. Two police medical reports at May Fair Clinic along Entebbe road dismissed homosexuality claims while the other confirmed that the student was assaulted.

The plaintiff indicates that they since engaged the school administrators variously and at times through other persons to try and have the dismissal reversed or at least regularized, all in vain.

"At all these meetings (none of which was at the instance of the school) the administrators acted aloof, firm, well protected and unrelenting with the deputy head teacher (brother Simon Mpanga) one time saying to the plaintiff "... go ahead and do what you wish because the school is bigger than anybody and has taught so many well placed individuals"," reads the plaint.

It adds that the plaintiff and her entire family including their son has suffered and continues to suffer from the resulting "negative" publicity, uncorrected allegations and public perceptions arising from the incident. "The notice of intention to sue was served on the defendants [on July 2, 2018] who ignored the same."

Meanwhile, The Observer has also learnt that when the clerk visited SMACK on Thursday last week [November 22], the school declined to receive the summons and plaint and referred him to their lawyer, John Mike Musisi. Through JM Musisi Advocates and Legal Consultants, they acknowledged receipt of the documents on November 22.

According to the court documents, the defendants are required to file a defence in the said suit within 15 days under 0.9 r.1, Civil procedure Rules S1 71-1. "Should you fail to file a defence on/or about that date, the plaintiff may proceed with the suit and judgment shall be given in your absence," reads the summons.

PRAYERS

The plaintiff wants court to force the defendant [SMACK board of governors] to pay them general, punitive and special damages for their actions against their child. For instance, the parent prays that judgment be entered in their favour for a declaration that the dismissal of their child from the school was illegal, irregular and of no consequence at all.

They also want special damages of Shs 1m spent on treatment of the child, Shs 1,670,200 being spent and un-refunded school fees for second term, 2018, Shs 1.9m spent on purchase of school requirements for second term and Shs 3m spent on joining the new school after dismissal from SMACK.

The accused student had only studied for three weeks into the second term at SMACK. He stayed home for the rest of the term until his parents enrolled him in another boarding school this third term.

The parent prays for general damages for defaming their son, damages for pain and suffering caused to him because of the dismissal and the way it was handled. Lastly, the plaintiff wants punitive damages for the defendants' impunity, insolence and disregard for the law.

nangonzi@observer.ug

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