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Seeta school driver under fire for knocking dead one-year-old girl, offering Shs 500,000 compensation

Seeta Kindergarten and Junior, Mukono is under the spotlight for allegedly frustrating investigations and threatening the parents of a child who was knocked dead by their school bus.

Potrait of Lugemwa Shanell
Potrait of Lugemwa Shanell

One-year-old Shanell Lugemwa died on May 31 after being knocked unconscious in Gulumwa, Goma Division in Mukono district while playing in the family compound.

According to eyewitnesses, the driver identified as Wasswa had come to drop off school children from the elite Seeta Kindergarten when the school bus, reg no. UAX 458E, reversed into Lugemwa’s family compound, injuring her fatally.

Lugemwa sustained injuries on the head and the left part of her little body. Ronald Kiggundu, a relative of the deceased, says that the child was in his compound playing with his son when he heard an alarm from a neighbour, shouting that the school bus had just knocked a child.

Abbas Kozala, a neighbour, says that he was at his home when Wasswa came knocking at his door to report that a child had been knocked in the neighbourhood and needed urgent medical attention before driving away.

“The man [Wasswa] came and told me that he found a car had knocked a child and he got concerned,” he says. “I came out and rushed her to Mukono General hospital where her mother later joined me. While at the hospital we were referred to Mulago where she died.”

However, he was shocked when he reached home and was told by one of the neighbours that Wasswa is the one who knocked the child. When he went to the Seeta police station, he was told the driver had just left and had told the police that he was only a good Samaritan who reported the accident. Lugemwa’s mother, Carol Kawunda says all witnesses say that they saw Wasswa knocking the child but he has since denied the allegations.

When she and some relatives stormed the school premises last week to demand money to transport the body for burial, they were blocked at the gate and allegedly threatened with arrest since the school allegedly belongs to the state minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo.

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“These people have said that we are common people, “omuntu wa wansi”, and that the school is for a government minister and there is nothing we can do…” she said.

“When we went to report our case to police, the driver had already reported himself but only as someone who alerted one of the neighbours so that they do not think he knocked their child…When we insisted, the police have since been dodging us and even refused to visit the crime scene,” said Winnie, Kawunda’s sister.

Kozala, who remained in touch with Wasswa, says that he got confused when he received Shs 500,000 from the driver via mobile money as compensation. “If he is innocent as he says he is then why does he have to send us compensation as if Shs 500,000 can return her life back?”. Later, the school added the family a further Shs 1.5 million to help with burial expenses.

The officer-in-charge of traffic at Seeta police station, Robert Onzima said that they delayed investigations due to the contradictory statements made by the witnesses.

“We are also confused with the contradictory statements, however investigations into the matter have started,” he said last week.

By Gen. Frank L'Oyet

A Ugandan Media Proprietor, Software Engineer, Creative Technologist and Investigative Journalist