Suspects Numbers Overwhelm Masaka Police

1610 Views Masaka, Uganda

In short
Police cells in greater Masaka region is overwhelmed by the number of inmates as the ongoing strike by judicial officers bites hard.

Police cells in greater Masaka region is overwhelmed by the number of inmates as the ongoing strike by judicial officers bites hard.
Last month, judicial officers under the Uganda Judicial Officers Association (UJOA) started the strike after government failed to honour a commitment to increase their salaries.
The officers are pushing for the salary of the Chief Justice to be increased from 20 million to to 55 million Shillings and that of the deputy Chief Justice from 18 million to 53 million Shillings. They are also suggesting an increment for the salary of the principal judge from the current 10 million Shillings to 50 million Shillings.
According to their suggestions, the lowest paid magistrate should earn at least 13 million Shillings per month, be given medical insurance, housing and fuel allowance.
As a result of the strike, several litigants and suspects on remand who go to Masaka High Court to have their cases heard are turned away ever since the strike started.
Uganda Radio Network has counted at least 20 people who were turned away from Masaka magistrate's court because of lack of judicial officers.
A court clerk, who preferred not to be named because she is not authorised to speak to the media, told litigants most of whose cases are about land disputes that there are no magistrates to hear their cases. She therefore asked them to return to their homes until courts resume work.
Joseph Ssenabulya, a resident of Kyengera in Wakiso district is one of those turned away. He says he was told to return to Masaka High Court last week but when he did he found court closed. He adds that court clerks told him to return on September 4, 2017 hoping that the judicial officers would have returned to work but when he did, he was told to go away.
Ssenabulya says for the two days he travelled to Masaka, he has spent 70,000shillings. He says failure by court to hear his land case has frustrated him.
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At Masaka central police station, the cells are filled to capacity because no one has been produced in court ever since the strike started.
Lameck Kigozi, the Southern Region Police Spokesperson says the ongoing strike by judicial officers has hit police hard. He says several police cells around the region have been filled up because they no longer produce suspects to court.
Kigozo however says those with minor offenses are being given a police bond to reduce congestion.
He says the police are finding it hard to feed the suspects still held for capital offenders.
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Uganda Radio Network has found several suspects detained at Masaka Central police cells. They include murder suspects, aggravated defilement suspects, rape suspects, aggravated robbery suspects many of whom have been in cells since last week.
Bruce Tushabe of Volunteer Uganda and Anti-Corruption organization, a rights group says he fears with the ongoing strike, residents will resort to mob justice to resolve their differences. He says this practice appears to have taken root in some areas.
He gives the example of Kyotera where a woman survived being lynched after being suspected of having a hand in the death of her husband.
The Judiciary says they will not call off the strike until their demands are meant.
On Monday, Kahinda Otafiire, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional  Affairs, asked the striking judicial officers to return to work as Government works out modalities to address their salary demands.


About the author

Edward Bindhe
Bindhe prides himself on being a part of the society he writes about. He believes there is no way a journalist can understand his society unless it considers him a part of it. This is why he is dedicated to investigating the challenges of the "little person."

Bindhe says, "My work reflects the Uganda Radio Network unique approach to news." Not many Ugandan journalists would consider or even notice the re-emergence of Water Hyacinth on a lake. Bindhe does.

Truant children will attract Bindhe's attention until he gets to the bottom of their truancy: poverty and the need to work to earn bread for their families. These are the kinds of stories Bindhe is often after.

Edward Bindhe is the Masaka URN bureau chief. Rakai, Lwengo, Lyantonde, Kalangala, Mpigi, Kalungu, Bukomansimbi and Sembabule districts fall under his docket. He has been a URN staff member since 2009.

A Mass Communication graduate from Uganda Christian University, Bindhe started practising journalism in 2008 as a reporter for Radio Buddu in Masaka district.