Two police officers have been arrested after a man burnt himself to death at Masaka Central Police while protesting impounding of his motorcycle by police.
The incident happened on Thursday when Hussein Walugembe,22 whose bike had been impounded on Tuesday by police for flouting curfew rules stormed the police station. However, according to the police spokesperson, Fred Enanga two police officers are currently in custody over the matter.
“The act of suicide at the police station is evidence of lack of vigilance by some of our commanders. 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 40,000= bribe for the release of his motorcycle,”Enanga said.
He named the two officers as Sgt. Julius Ewalu , the Station Major and Sgt Ibrahim Ssesanga the acting OC Traffic at Masaka Central Police Station.
“They acted negligently and unreasonably in holding the motorcycle without explanation or issuance of an EPS ticket,”Enanga added.
The Police mouthpiece explained that preliminary investigations indicate that the motorcycle was impounded on June, 30, 2020 by Sgt.Elwalu after it was found parked at a petrol station that was undergoing construction where the deceased worked as a local night guard.
He said the deceased had recently acquired the motorcycle and it was being ridden by one Twaha Kaweesi a friend.
Police said that whereas the deceased was known to police officers at Masaka Police station, when the bike was impounded, he on July 1 and 2, 2020 went to police to reclaim it but his efforts were futile.
“He was also employed by Rogers Namanya who supplied food to suspects in custody, but also performed several odd jobs at Masaka Police Station. On the July, 2,2020, his rider, Kaweesi Twaha, had raised shs 40,000 as a bribe to Sgt. Ssesanga but the deceased rejected the move since he was well known at the police station,”Enanga said.
Enanga explained that on the fateful day, after being frustrated by the acting officer in charge of traffic at the police station, Walugembe went to a nearby police station and bought petrol before setting himself ablaze.
“He attempted to grab the officer, for them to die together but he escaped with minor burns, leaving the victim behind.”
According to eyewitnesses, after getting petrol, the deceased lit more than two matchsticks in front one of the police officers who kept capturing the moments on his smartphone.
The eyewitnesses insisted that whereas Walugembe continued threatening to set himself ablaze, the police officers never bothered until his threats finally came to pass as officers watched.
IGP dispatches team
Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola has dispatched a team to investigate the incident, the police spokesperson, Fred Enanga has said.
Enanga said the team is headed by the police Director in charge of Operations, AIGP Edward Ochom, and Bazil Mugisha, the Director for Traffic and Road Safety.
“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,”Enanga said.
The police spokesperson noted that Ochola has instructed the directorate of Chief Political Commissar to conduct special gate-keeping trainings for all police officers on the basic of recognizing and responding to signs of suicide.