By Chris Kiwawulo
The Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) has dismissed Secretary General, Richard Nataka, after he failed to appear before the disciplinary committee to defend himself against tax evasion and smuggling allegations, a source who attended the board meeting on Thursday reveals.
The source says the URCS Interim Central Governing Board also dismissed the suspended finance director Sarah Ndegemu and her deputy Geoffrey Wepondi,
Richard Amadra, the under-secretary general in charge of institutional development was pardoned after he reportedly pleaded with the board, the source added.
Nataka was last year suspended from URCS at the height of investigations into suspected smuggled goods that Police and Uganda Revenue Authority found at his home in Munyonyo, a Kampala suburb.
The board on Wednesday summoned Nataka to defend himself but he failed to show up. In a notice published in the press on Tuesday the board chairman Stephen Tashobya asked Nataka to appear or they reach a verdict in his absentia.
Other URCS officials were suspended over alleged abuse of office and mismanagement.
Tashobya, who is also the Kajara County Member of Parliament earlier noted that; “In case he doesn’t appear, we shall evaluate the evidence before us and decide. The action we shall take—whether dismissal or other penalties—will depend on the evidence against him.”
In the notice, Tashobya said Nataka had failed to heed to several earlier summons that were reportedly sent through his official and personal contacts, adding that this was the final notice.
“We have tried to send him invitations to appear before us to explain some issues but he has not honoured our plea. There are issues we wanted him to answer because he is on interdiction. So we thought he should come and be heard. But for some reason he has not come.
“We took the invitation to his home and we were told he is not there, but we know that he stays there. The other reason we are summoning him is to avoid legal problems in future. So, he has to appear, and that is why we have put a notice in the newspapers,” Tashobya stated.