Three Months On, Bomb Blast Victim Struggles to Recuperate

1371 Views Kampala, Uganda
On July 11th 2010, the rugby club and Ethiopian village in Kampala became the first targets in the city to be destroyed by a bomb blast, which killed more than 80 people. Though the blast is three months away, its carnage still lingers in the few who survived one of the darkest days. Robert Ssemuju, in his early thirties, was initially feared dead immediately after the blasts at Kyadondo Rugby grounds. He was ferried to Mulago on a police patrol pick-up and left in the mortuary amongst dead bodies. The media later reported that he had been discovered in the morgue 15 hours later. His friends and colleagues also reported him dead, until the hospital staff at Mulago hospital found out that he was alive and treated him. He underwent several surgeries to repair the left part of his head, which was shattered by the blast. He spent eight hours and unconscious for almost ten days later. But today, Ssemuju can manage to talk clearly and though he still finds difficulty in carrying himself off his bed without his new found necessities - a pair of clutches. Ssemuju's friends have not yet come to terms with the fact that he is alive, because they saw him dead. Some fear to meet him alone in his house. One of them who directed our reporter to his house, feared to see him and instead pointed to the house from a distance. Uganda Radio Network, traced Ssemuju to Makindye, Kelezia Zone where, he was found lying in a two-roomed house. Ssemuju currently lives with his supportive wife, mother and sister. Seated on a chair, Ssemuju told his story with great enthusiasm that the only thing holding him down is the serious dislocation on the upper shoulder joints. He says that save for the left hand and the weakness in his leg, there is no pain. The scars on his head are very visible; the many operations have left his head uneven, with the right below the left, due to the grafting of the left head that was done with flesh from his thighs. He is hopeful that with proper treatment and physiotherapy he should be getting back to his carpentry work within the next one month. But proper treatment is still his biggest dream because he is currently receiving traditional massage from a place in the neighborhood of his home. He has not yet received the money government released to assist victims of the gruesome murders. Ssemuju and his aunt have been trying to access the money but nothing has yet materialized because the process is too bureaucratic. Internal Affairs permanent secretary, Stephen Kagoda, said the bureaucracy in compensating the injured survivors became unavoidable after victims of other ordinary accidents admitted to Mulago Hospital also tried to access the bomb victims' compensation. According to Police, people like Ssemuju have to present authentic identification documents in order to access their money. Edward Ochom, The Criminal Investigations Director, told URN last week that they have not yet finalized the verification process and expects those not yet compensated to be helped.


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