FORT PORTAL – On November 8, 2019, at around 9 pm, I was knocked off a Boda Boda by a speeding vehicle in Fort Portal. The accident left me with a fractured right leg femur (thigh bone), while my wife and the cyclist sustained very minor injuries.
I was then rushed to Holy Family Virika Hospital where I was later operated from.
But shortly after reaching the hospital, a strange man entered the room where I was sleeping and asked me a number of questions including my name, phone number, age, and the person I was involved in the accident.
He also inquired if I had captured the vehicle’s number plate and I said I didn’t. As I answered other questions, my mind was telling me that the man was a police officer.
Before he left, he told us that he had gathered some information about our accident and that he was still hunting for more details.
However, after his departure, we grew suspicious about his appearance and intentions. My relative in the Boda [Boda] business said that in most cases, after accidents, the causers normally try to find out the state of the victims and if they were identified.
He told us that the man could have either been the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident or a spy for the driver. But without his contact or cameras in the hospital to review his identity, we simply let it go, though my wife said his face was familiar.
During the same night, I got information from a friend that Dr Kagoro Kaijomurubi Araali had captured the number plate of the vehicle as UAS 641J and that he had reported the case at Kasusu Police. I saved the information and felt happy about it.
Two days later, my wife also reported the same case at Fort Portal Traffic Police Office under SD Ref number 05/10/11/2019. She was also given medical forms that required information about my health status after the accident. The forms were filled, taken back, and she also recorded a statement.
Miraculously, the anonymous man reappeared in the corridors of the hospital three days later. My wife recognized him and she rushed to the hospital’s parking yard where she suspected he could have parked his vehicle. There, she found a vehicle Reg No. UAS 042J. She immediately called traffic police who arrived at the same time the man was walking out of the hospital.
Police quizzed him about his intentions of ‘visiting’ us shortly after the accident and the information he had gathered from us. The man started by admitting that he indeed picked information from us but quickly denied causing the accident.
Actually, he told police that he still had the paper where he had written the information about me and that the paper was in the same car that he said belongs to his friend. Police simply went back. They didn’t even take a statement from him yet I was thinking he was a suspect and deserved to record one due to the suspicious things he had done. But that never happened.
After being discharged from the hospital, I contacted Kagoro for details about the incident. He explained that the vehicle that looked like a Starlet had bypassed him at a terrific speed and when he found that we had been knocked, he and those he was within the car, quickly suspected that it was the same vehicle.
He added that he chased the car and found it parked at Hotel Soka in Kacwamba with damaged guards and a front flat tyre. Kagoro also told me that he indeed then drove to Kasusu Police and reported that an accident had occurred around Virika Cathedral and the car suspected to have caused it was parked at Hotel Soka.
However, for the time I spent stranded at the accident scene, no police officer surfaced.
After the phone conversation, I sent my wife to Kasusu police post for an update about the case he reported. We were shocked that nothing was found in their records book. The OC of the station summoned the officer who was on duty that night and the officer shamelessly said that no one reported about an accident that night!
I didn’t give up. I then called the OC Traffic Police Fort Portal, Yolamu Tumwebaze, and I explained about the accident and the case that Dr Kagoro reported. I then requested that he gets details of Vehicle UAS 641J. The details I wanted included the owner’s name and contact.
Tumwebaze first wondered if I knew anyone at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and I said yes. He then said that I can contact them and they avail the details of the vehicle as he directs his officers to impound the vehicle on sight. When I contacted the Fort Portal URA office, I was told that the process of getting details of such vehicles is very clear: police give the complainant a letter and URA avails the details.
When I again contacted Tumwebaze and gave him feedback from URA, he sounded furious. He said he was aware of the process but had thought I would get the details informally from friends there. I told him that I’m following a case formally and wouldn’t wish to do things informally. He then asked for minutes “to see what to do”.
After some hours, he called me with more shocking details. He told me that he had contacted a friend at URA who gave him the following information: that vehicle reg. no. UAS 641J is a Super Custom owned by Sajid Enterprises Limited! This was totally different from what I expected because, before the accident, I had also seen a small vehicle coming from the opposite direction, but I never got the chance to capture its details.
Puzzled by the Super Custom narrative, I searched on the internet for contacts of this company and landed on a website that mentioned its name and contacts. When I called on the phone numbers, the first one was picked by a lady who said she had never heard about the company. The second one +256753950071 had been disconnected from the Airtel network.
I then got more frustrated. I again contacted Tumwebaze and asked if it was possible to physically see the Super Custom, just for my satisfaction because, in Uganda, I have seen the same number plate on different vehicles. He simply said that the case was getting complicated.
As a last resort, I demanded to have the anonymous man who picked information from us interrogated. But Tumwebaze said they don’t have his contacts and it’s hard to get him, adding that his officers were right when they left without picking a statement from him at Virika. I wondered how right they were. Also, wouldn’t they use details of the car of his friend that we had now seen during the daylight to get him?
With no signs of success with Tumwebaze, I moved a notch higher. I engaged the DPC Kabarole, John Faustine Oese, who promised to engage Tumwebaze for a possible way forward but the engagement has never yielded results.
Up to now, my mind is like if the Kasusu police officer swiftly intervened, I would be having hope for justice. Or if my demand to physically see the Super Custom was made possible, my heart would have rested because I suspect the Super Custom number plate could have been put on that vehicle that knocked me.
Also, I think that if the strange visitor was interrogated, he would have maybe led us to the right path of justice but all these are mere wishes now… they may never come true…
I’m now experiencing double pain, that’s from the injured leg and the other from the bitter truth that, due to police’s laxity in following up and properly investigating cases, I may never get justice or know who knocked me and left me lame.
Christopher Tusiime is the Bureau Chief, Rwenzori Region at Uganda Radio Network