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Budo's Kayongo arrested over school fire

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th September 2008 03:00 AM

BUDO Junior School’s former headmaster Dr. William Kayongo was on Thursday night arrested on charges of criminal negligence leading to the death of 20 pupils. Kayongo was arrested at about 7:00pm in Kampala and detained at Central Police Station. He was due to appear in court on Friday afternoon,

BUDO Junior School’s former headmaster Dr. William Kayongo was on Thursday night arrested on charges of criminal negligence leading to the death of 20 pupils. Kayongo was arrested at about 7:00pm in Kampala and detained at Central Police Station. He was due to appear in court on Friday afternoon,

By Conan Businge
and Steven Candia

BUDO Junior School’s former headmaster Dr. William Kayongo was on Thursday night arrested on charges of criminal negligence leading to the death of 20 pupils. The pupils died when Nassolo dormitory caught fire on April 12.

“The policies and programmes that Kayongo put up in Budo Junior School during his tenure were directly linked to the tragic incident,” police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said.

Nabakooba said the congested dormitories, use of triple decker beds and failure to arrange Board of Governors’ meetings as examples of the negligence Kayongo exhibited.

The dormitory which was gutted by fire was supposed to handle 30 pupils, according to guidelines that were set by the school.

Instead, this was altered to 60 pupils in the same size of the dormitory, at the time of the inferno,” Nabakooba explained.

Kayongo was arrested at about 7:00pm in Kampala and detained at Central Police Station. He was due to appear in court on Friday afternoon, according to Police.

“The file was sanctioned by the Director of Public Prosecution, and the charge sheet is ready. There is no reason why he should not appear in court today,” Nabakooba said on Friday morning.

Twenty school girls aged between eight and nine on April 14 died in an inferno that razed down the Nassolo dormitory, which was previously a classroom.

In April Kayongo was interrogated at the CID head offices in Kibuli in relation to the inferno. After the interrogation that reportedly spanned hours, Kayongo recorded a statement.

The inferno came at the time Kayongo, a long-serving headmaster at Budo, had just been transferred to Buloba Primary School.

Dr. Livingstone Ddungu took over from him two weeks before the inferno.
Kayongo and 10 teachers were transferred from the school following a sit-down strike by teachers over non-payment of salaries.

Parents and the public accused Kayongo of mismanaging the school, a situation that could have led to the tragedy.

Since April 15, Police have interrogated and recorded statements from witnesses and suspects.

Nabakooba, yesterday said that the other “investigations on the other five suspects that were at one time arrested, have been completed.”
She added that investigations are still going on to “ascertain who exactly started the fire.”

“All the culprits will be brought to book and tried in courts of law. No person that is connected to this fire will escape the law. We ask the bereaved parents and the public to remain patient.”

Nabakooba added that investigation will go on. “If it means arresting more culprits, we shall do that. There are a number of leads we are following and we will follow all of them.”

  • He studied at King’s College Budo between 1980 and 1982. He was residing in Canada House.
  • He completed his studies and later proceeded for further studies at the Institute of Teacher Education, Kyambogo.
  • After studies, Kayongo returned as a teacher at Budo Junior School. He rose through the ranks to deputy headmaster.
  • He was promoted to headmaster of Budo Junior School, when the then headmaster retired.
  • He led the school for 12 years, before being transferred to another school.
  • During his time at Budo Junior School in the 1990s, he master-minded a concerted effort to convince parents, staff and pupils that they were getting the best education and care with the little resources they had at hand.
  • On being transferred, he made an incomplete handover to the new headmaster, Dr. Livingstone Ddungu.
  • During his time at Budo Junior, he opened up his own school, Berkley Education Institute, which has recently become indebted to banks.
  • He is also a renowned businessman in and out of Kampala city.
  • He was working with his wife at Budo Junior. She, however, left early this year after a teachers’ and pupils’ strike. Teachers accused him of mismanaging the school and mistreating them, among other issues.
  • He was interrogated by the Police criminal investigators, following the Budo inferno in April.
  • Of late, he has been in and out of the country, until his arrest on Thursday.
  • Compiled by Conan Businge

  • April 14: Fire guts Nasolo girls’ dormitory in Budo Junior in the night, 19 students feared dead, plunging the nation into shock.
  • April 14: Police interrogates several UMEME officials over the tragedy, since the school was in a power black out when the fire broke out.
  • April 15: State House investigators separately interrogated the current headteacher, Dr. Livingstone Ddungu, his deputy Moses Ssewalu and some teachers.
  • April 15: International Children’s Charity, Save the Children in Uganda asks the Government to formulate a health and safety policy to protect children in boarding schools.
  • April 17: Police quiz former Budo Junior headmaster Dr William Kayongo, arrests 10 Budo guards and a matron in connection with the inferno whose death toll police official puts at 20.
  • April 22: A week after the inferno, forensic investigations fail to establish cause of the fire.
  • April 23: Budo matron Damalie Basirika together with four other guards are charged with criminal negligence and remanded to Luzira as Police seals off scene of the grisly incident.
  • May 1: Budo parents counselled.
  • May 5: Budo matron Damalie Basirika appears in court, denied bail and returned to Luzira for another two weeks pending further investigations into the inferno.
  • May 6: Budo matron Basirika and four security guards sent back to Luzira Prison for two more weeks pending more investigations into the inferno.
  • May 8: Parliament passes a motion to declare the late Yvonne Namaganda of Budo Junior School a national heroine.
  • May 20: Buganda Road Magistrate Margaret Tibulya is irked by the slow pace of the investigations, says Police should wind up investigations.
  • June 3: Basirika and her co-accused, the four guards are granted bail by court after 42 days on remand.
  • June 10: Budo Junior School re-opens amid protests by a group of bereaved parents, demanding the release of the Police report on the fire that killed their children.
  • July 15: Budo parents demand for an independent probe into the fire that gutted the dormitory and killed their children.
  • July 18: The LCV chairman of Wakiso district, Eng. Ian Kyeyune, while addressing parents reveals that according to the district investigations, the fire that gutted the school, was not an accident.
  • July 22: Parents appear before the speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, requesting the Government to compensate them reasonably for the lives and property of the children within 14 days.
  • Compiled by Conan Businge and Steven Candia

    Budo's Kayongo arrested over school fire

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