Uganda: Health Workers Accuse Police of Brutality in Jinja

Police in Jinja have come under the spotlight for their highhandedness for allegedly beating up three medical workers of Jinja Regional Referral Hospital while they were heading to work.

Dr Angela Namala, the deputy director of the hospital, told Daily Monitor that the staff were assaulted yesterday even when they showed their identification.

"We are trying to get the victims to come and talk on their (own) behalf, but we are still compiling the list," she said.

Asked how many staff were physically assaulted, Dr Namala said: "Even if it was one, he or she doesn't deserve it; but we have so far received complaints."

Dr Namala didn't identify the alleged victims or state whether they identified their supposed assailants by face or name tags, saying the hospital would convene a meeting after which she would respond. But by the time of filing this story, she hadn't responded.

Following a surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths countrywide, President Museveni on June 18 announced a 42-day lockdown and closed some establishments, but allowed essential workers, including medical workers to continue working.

On Monday morning, police set up barricades, complete with traffic stripes, along major entry points into Jinja City.

The development reportedly comes after a Kampala-based news outlet on Saturday alleged that while the rest of the country was in lockdown, complacency reigned among Jinja residents.

Issue

Mr Herbert Baloda, a boda boda rider, who sits on the riders' association committee, said he was coming from his home in Mafubira Ward, Jinja North Division at around 5.50am when he was stopped at Dunlop checkpoint.

"I wasn't carrying a passenger, so I knew I had done nothing. I presented my association identity card but was instead flogged and asked to park my motorcycle on the sidewalk," he said, showing a bruised right index finger.

Mr Baloda added that he was then identified by some policemen as a leader of the boda boda in Jinja and was asked by the officer who had beaten him to join them to arrest errant colleagues, a task he did until around 8.10am when he was handed back his motorcycle.

For the more than two-and-a-half hours Mr Baloda was embedded in the police establishment, he said he witnessed at least 10 people being flogged.

Mr Maurice Niyonzima, the acting district police commander, when asked about the incident, said he was not aware.

"Who beat them (and) from where? I am not aware of that. Do those people know the particular officers who did that?" he asked, adding: "Our uniforms bear our names; the alleged victims can identify the person who did that and I will take disciplinary action."

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