Uganda’s ambassador to Burundi, Maj. Gen. Matayo Kyaligonza, is in the eye of a storm over photos of him confronting a female Police officer while she was on duty.
The pictures and a short video clip show Kyaligonza, who also doubles as the vice-chairperson western region of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), together with his bodyguards clad in military Police uniform, jostling Sergeant Esther Namaganda after she stopped the vehicle in which he was travelling for allegedly flouting traffic rules. It is alleged that Kyaligonza made a U-turn in the middle of the road at the Seeta junction in Mukono municipality.
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has said it was investigating the incident. Kyaligonza is a member of the UPDF High Command. The UPDF spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, regretted the incident in a social media post and added that investigations were underway.
“We have been informed of the incident involving a Police traffic sergeant and UPDF military Police soldiers. It is regrettable and apologies to our Police sister. UPDF and Uganda Police Force are establishing the facts. Findings will guide action to be taken,” Karemire stated in a twitter post
According to Namaganda,
“At about 11:30am, the general. (Kyaligonza) was driving from Kampala on the Jinja highway, in a Land Cruiser Prado registration number BU 18 CMD 01 with his two guards, when he suddenly stopped at the Seeta junction, adjacent to Tuskys Supermarket and made a U-turn to head back to Kampala. That is when I stopped the car with tinted windows.”
“One of the bodyguards called Okurut then jumped out of the car and started screaming at me, asking where I got the authority to stop their car,”
She narrated, adding that,
“In a split second, as I was engaging Okurut, Kyaligonza and his other bodyguard were quickly approaching me in a very fierce manner.”
Namaganda, in a statement she recorded at Seeta Police Station, claims that the visibly enraged Kyaligonza then
“Grabbed me by the collar and strapped off my lanyard, dumping it on the ground while threating to demote me”.
The photo of the incident depicts a visibly angry Kyaligonza stretching out his arm towards Namaganda as she struggles to free herself from the male bodyguards that had tightly grabbed her by the collar.
Namaganda recounts that it is at this point that Police Constable William Aliku intervened to plead with the bodyguards, saying she should be handled gently citing her advanced age. A mother of five, Namaganda, who was born in 1968, joined the Uganda Police Force in 1989 as a Police Constable rising through the ranks to become a sergeant and senior traffic Police officer.
Namaganda, who claims Kyaligonza slapped her on the left cheek, leaving it sore, has since reported a case of threatening violence and assault at Seeta Police Station. Besides flouting traffic regulations and reckless driving, Kyaligonza might as well answer cases related to blocking an officer from executing her lawful duties.
A UBC journalist, Deogratious Otayi, who captured the incident using his smartphone, also alleges that he was butt-stroked in the ribs by the gunwielding armymen who he has also reported at Seeta Police Station. Social media users, including government officials, have condemned the incident with Police Chief Political Commissar Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Asan Kasingye describing it as unacceptable.
Kasingye went on to say;
“I remember one day he was demoted for slapping the OC Station Jinja Rd ASP Tumusiime in 1989.”
The Kasese District Woman MP, Winfred Kiiza, posted on her Facebook account that:
“False sense of entitlement and presumed immunity grows impunity. I stand with the traffic Police officer that was assaulted under the instructions and watch of “a leader”. Any right-thinking member of the society should condemn such lawlessness and character unbecoming of a leader. It is my prayer that the authorities concerned call him and the accomplices to order.”