By Andante Okanya
A family that lost one of its own in an accident involving the presidential convoy lead car has sued government, demanding sh257m as compensation.
The fatality happened on July 21, 2012 in Mbarara district.
Now the affected family wants special damages to the tune of sh257m, arguing that they have been deprived due to the death of Barnet Mwebaze, 22.
The family filed a civil suit at the High Court in Kampala on June 30 this year through their lawyer, Kampala Associated Advocates.
Government chief legal advisor – the Attorney General (AG) – is named as the defendant in the case.
The plaintiffs hold the AG liable for the actions of the officials in the presidential motorcade, noting that they are his agents.
Court documents indicate that on the fateful day, the deceased was driving a Toyota Corona Premio with two other occupants and were heading to Mbarara High School to attend centenary celebrations where President Yoweri Museveni was the chief guest.
On reaching Kayanja along the Mbarara-Masaka highway, the lead car of the president’s motorcade instantly and without prior warning blocked the road. President was not in the convoy at the time, the family says.
Mwebaze was then forced to veer off the road to avoid a collision with the lead car but lost control of his vehicle.
“As a result, the car lost control, overturned and rolled several times off the road. The President was not in the said convoy,” reads the plaint.
The family says the officials in the convoy deliberately and negligently declined to evacuate the injured to the nearest hospital, Mayanja Memorial Hospital which is 20 minutes from the accident scene.
The family is bitter that the officials declined to make use of the presidential ambulance fitted with modern life saving equipment.
According to them, the officials only acted two hours after the accident and transported the injured on a pickup truck. Mwebaze was pronounced dead on arrival at Mayanja Memorial Hospital.
According to court documents, his sister, one of the two other occupants, Kabarungi sustained a depressed skull as well as spinal and eye injuries. She was referred to Mulago Hospital in Kampala which subsequently referred her to University College London Hospital, in London, England.
Their parents say she is now confined to a wheelchair, walks on crutches, has lost nearly all sight in her left eye, and has a “device affixed to her spinal cord” to control and support her nervous system.
Their dead son was working with a telecommunications firm Synergy Communications Limited, earning sh3.8m per month. The say his death has deprived them of daily needs as he was the sole provider for his siblings’ needs.
Court has ordered the AG to file his defense within 30 days.
In the order by the court’s assistant registrar Eleanor Khainzha, the AG (Peter Nyombi) has been cautioned to heed, lest judgment is passed without his input.
When New Vision sought a comment from the Solicitor General Francis Atoke, a key figure in the AG’s chambers, he replied in the negative.
“I am not aware of such a case. Sorry I cannot help you.”