A group of parents whose children were killed in a fire at a Buddo Junior School dormitory on April 14th have staged a demonstration at the school today to demand justice for their children.
The group of about 10 parents stormed the school, which opened for its second term today, protesting the resumption of studies at Buddo Junior. They said the school administration is wrong to opening the school before the release of the full police report on the cause of the fire.
The origin of the fire, which killed 20 young girls aged between 9 and 11 years, is still a mystery. An interim report released by the police did not have any definite clues about the cause of the fire, saying only that it was not caused by an electrical fault or candle flame. The report pointed to foul play, but no one was named and no one has been arrested for directly causing the fire.
Instead the police arrested four guards and the matron of the burned dormitory for criminal negligence and neglect of duty. Last week, the elderly matron, Damalie Basirika, was released on bail for health concerns.
This morning, the placard wielding parents, accused the Buddo school administrators of not doing enough to investigate their children's death.
Juliet Amawa, whose daughter Mercy Akite was killed in the fire, said government should immediately release the report. She said she was concerned that the matron was released on bail before the police report was publicized.
The parents said they will camp at Buddo Junior School until the Minister of Education and Sports, Namirembe Bitamazire agrees to meet them. They shouted accusations at the LC5 chairperson of Wakiso district, Ian Kyeyune, who was at the school to oversee the opening, accusing him of taking a bribe to open the school.
The parents said their children were worth much more than the 500,000 shillings that President Yoweri Museveni gave them to cover burial expenses. To stress their dismay they held placards reading: iMuseveni we didn't ask you to give us the .5 million. Take it back now. We need our report.i
The demonstrators are also demanding the arrest of William Kayongo, the former headmaster of Buddo Junior. The angry parents claim that Kayongo and Basirika, the matron, are related.
The accusations of the parents against Kayongo range from witchcraft to murder.
Christine Naaba is the mother of Patience Namuyanga, a P.4 pupil killed in the fire. She said the parents have received information that prior to the incident Kayongo returned from a trip to a powerful herbalist in Tanzania. She said suspicions about Kayongo's movements were raised when it was noted that all, but one of the girls who died in the fire were first born children.
Naaba, who claimed to have evidence of these claims, said the children could have escaped from the fire, but were prevented from doing so. She said Kayongo must be arrested immediately because she is frustrating investigations into the fire.
Anti-riot police arrived at the school shortly after midday. Before that the chairperson of the Old Budonians Club, Dr. Edward Kayondo, also arrived at the school to attempt to placate the parents. Together with the Wakiso LC5 chairperson, Kayondo appealed for calm.
Meanwhile about 350 children have reported for the opening of the second term at Buddo Junior. The school's first deputy head teacher, Irene Mirembe, said adjustments had been made in the accommodation to scale back pupil numbers from 1,350 to only 900. She said triple decker beds had been turned into double decker beds, dormitories were refurbished and more space was created in the housing units.
However it is noticeable that most of the renovations are superficial, involving new coats of paint and new toilets. There is no evidence of new fire fighting equipment at the school.
The new school headmaster, Tom Kasule, was not available for comment. Kasule was a former Inspector of Schools in charge of Kyadondo.
buddo junior school