Shifa Aliya, 34, is confined to her house after a boda-boda accident left her legs shattered. The single mother of four worries that she might never be able to walk again Carol Natukunda reports
Everything about the afternoon signals gloom. Perhaps it is the low, gray cloud that hangs overhead despite the sweltering sun. Shifa Aliya assesses the weather; her face stern and solemn. "It is too hot," she mutters as she holds onto to her crutches and returns to her house. Finally finding a place to seat, she grits her teeth in pain. "If I walk again, it will be a miracle," she says in a resigned tone.
Aliya's life suddenly came to a halt following severe injuries she sustained on the morning of 24 August 2014 in a boda boda accident. According to medical scans, the bones in her legs were left shattered. The single mother of four children worries that she might be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
The night before the accident, Aliya was hanging out with a group of friends at Cayenne bar in Bukoto, a Kampala suburb.
"We partied and had so much fun that before I knew it, it was almost dawn. My friends and I initially used commuter taxis but later when I got to town, I decided I would jump on a boda boda and head home in Nkonge, near Buziga."
"The ride went well at first. We were at a minimal speed. But when we had reached somewhere opposite Kabalagala police post on Ggaba road, there was a Rav4 vehicle driving into our lane. I instantly knew something was wrong with this Rav4 because the driver was not keeping to his left as it should be. I tried to tell the boda boda rider to dodge it since you could see it was coming for us, but it was too late.
"I do not remember what happened. The next thing I realised when I woke up was about two hours later when I was at Mulago Hospital and my legs were badly broken. I was told that the vehicle moved over my legs," Aliya recounts.
Here, she shows x-rays of her broken limbs. (Credit: Godfrey Kimono)
At that time, the doctors asked her for contact details of her next of kin. She had left her children with a caretaker. "They received the news on phone. It was heartbreaking… My children could not understand what was going on," she recalls.
She later learnt that she had been rushed to Mulago Hospital by the help of police officers since the scene of the crime was right opposite the Kabalagala police station. Her rider, Joseph Tebezi sustained minor injuries on his elbows. His motorcycle registration number UDV 540H was, however, damaged.
The motor vehicle, Rav4 No. UAH 895N, which knocked her was being driven by a one Andy Kedi, a businessman along Bukoto street in Kamwokya.
"I was told that Kedi did not have a driving permit and that he was drunk driving. He at first wanted to run away, but the police nabbed him and brought him to Mulago hospital. He was tasked to pay for my bills of the initial operation I had to save my life and since I did not have any caretaker, he also had to pay for someone to look after me," Aliya recounts.
After a week in hospital, Aliya claims that she was driven to Kabalagala police station by some police officers in the company of Kedi.
"They persuaded me to settle the matter between me and Kedi so that it does not go to court. I first refused and they let me stay in the car for over four hours. I was in great pain at that time, and could not move. The officers would keep coming to ask me if I had made up my mind to settle the case. They would then go back inside and leave me lying in the car.
"Eventually, it was about 9:00pm or 10:00pm when I finally agreed to their proposal. It was not because I was ready. I wished I had a lawyer. But I was too weak and in a lot of pain to bear sitting in the car anymore. They brought me documents to sign and I just signed without even reading to find out what they were saying. I was tired of waiting.
"One of the Police officers then told me that the case had dismissed and that Kedi would be and in immense pain, I finally relented and agreed to dismiss the case. Kedi made a pledge to give me sh3.5million for my bills. He also pledged that he would continue supporting me," Aliya narrates.
The money would quickly be used up. Besides medical bills, she had rent dues to clear and children to take care of.
"When the wounds on the surface started healing, I had to beg the doctor who was treating me at Mulago Hospital to discharge me because my children are all minors. I do not have anyone to take care of them. My mother is long dead. My step siblings have never been there," Aliya says
Her landlord was at first lenient, but he soon run out of patience. The family was thrown out of the house.
"And my friend rented for me a room in Nabuutiti Kansanga. It was the worst place you can live in. It would flood and all; my children would fall sick often, but I had to accept the situation I was in," she says.
Two of Shifa's children were fathered by Phillip Bernard, a British national, who is deceased
FIRST LADY INTERVENES
One Sunday morning, Aliya had gone to attend prayers at Patience Rwabogo's church, then located in Buziga. The First Lady, Janet Museveni who was one of the members of the congregation caught her eye.
"When Janet saw me, and the state I was in, she asked what had happened to me. I narrated to her my predicament and she looked very concerned. But she said she needed a police report to confirm what I was telling her. Then from there she said she would then help me and even get me a lawyer if I needed to seek justice."
Aliya narrates that the First Lady gave her sh1m, and then handed me over to a lady whom she only remember as Pastor Molly who would be her contact person for future help.
"But even when I got the Police report and gave it to Pastor Molly, I soon gave up calling her, because she was always busy and hard to get," Aliya recounts
Along the way, Aliya has sold everything she owned to make ends meet. "I had a plot of land in Masaka were I wanted to build a house for my children. But I sold it without even going there because I didn't have a way I could move. The brokers must have exaggerated the measurements. I can't tell," she says.
She has since been chased from one muzigo to another over rent default. She currently lives on Salaama road, near Makindye another rented house where she will soon be evicted
"I have not paid rent for two months. I live on handouts."
Even though she has crutches to ease her movement, she has to be careful that her wobbly legs do not touch firmly the floor. " I cannot squat on a latrine. My legs cannot support me.I feel a lot of pain even by merely touching. I ease myself in a bucket which my daughter then helps me clean. See how these bones are apart?" she says displaying a copy of her medical scans.
"My doctor at Mulago advised me to go to CORSU hospital on Entebbe road saying Mulago did not have enough beds and it would take me time to be operated because there are people who come every day worse off than me. But the estimated hospital bill at CORSU is about sh17m which I cannot afford," Aliya laments.
Meals and school fees are a luxury in her stuffy room which she calls home. Her two elder children are aged 15 and eight are from a previous relationship. "Their father died," she says.
The last two, aged three and four, are of mixed race resulting out of a relationship she had with a Briton, she identifies as Phillip Bernard.
"Bernard also passed away after a motor accident in 2013 near Ntinda," she says.
A death certificate seen by Saturday Vision shows that Bernard was in coma for three days at Kadic Hospital and he never recovered. He used to work at Metropolitan Travel Bureau in Kampala as an accountant. He was aged 69 at the time of his death. He was buried at a cemetery in Ntinda," Aliya narrates.
As she speaks, it is clear that she is a shadow of her former self. She talks about having been a free spirited woman; an enterprising woman prior to her accident. She owned a high end boutique in Kabalagala which was doing so well that on a good weekend, she would take her children out for a swim.
"I have since sold everything. My car, my clothes, laptop, everything!" she says, shaking her head.
By the time Saturday Vision visited her, one of her children had hernia and both mother and son were crying hysterically.
"I don't know what I did in life to deserve this," Aliya kept saying. "I have gone to every church to be prayed for in vain."
She, has, however, picked one lesson. "I don't know how I am going to be for the rest of my life. But If I ever make it on my feet again, I would never use a boda boda," she swears.
The single mother of four children (all pictured at the New Vision head offices) worries that she might be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Strangely, although Aliya believes the case between her and the culprit driver Kedi was closed when she signed the suspicious document, the Police report seen by Saturday Vision reveals that the case is still under investigation.
The police report is dated 25th July 2015 under Police reference number TAR 345/2014.
When contacted, the police officer who handled the case Betty Acanit, declined to give a comment saying she was no longer stationed at Kabalagala.
The Officer in Charge of Kabalagala Isaac Mugwerwa also declined to comment referred to Sunday Vision to the Police traffic department, saying it was a traffic offence.
Efforts to get details from the department were futile by press time as officials declined to comment.
THE DRIVER WHO KNOCKED HER
Aliya says while Kedi promised to continue supporting her, he has not lived up to his word.
However, Kedi told Saturday Vision that he is doing his best.
"I cleared all her bills at Mulago Hospital. Even after the sh3.5m compensation for her medical bills, I have not stopped giving her help. Sometimes, I give her sh100,000. Sometimes, between sh300,000 and sh500,000. Once I employed his son at my business but he did not like the job. I have not abandoned her as she claims. I do my best," says Kedi.
He denies claims that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time when he knocked Aliya. Although he sounds remorseful, Kedi refuses to go into details of what could have led to the accident.
WHAT NEXT FOR ALIYA
The question is if Aliya can get support from good Samaritans including the UK government especially for her two children whose dad was a Briton.
"They should have started school by now, but what can I do?"
The UK Embassy in Uganda declined to give a comment to the press.
(Are you that good Samaritan out there? Make a difference in Aliya's life and her rescue. Her number is +256755 96 22 20/075596 22 20)