Mukwano torture cops must be tried in court, not a disciplinary tribunal
Posted Friday, October 11 2013 at 01:00
It is commendable that some police action has been taken against the “Mukwano torture cops”, but surely assault, battery and causing serious bodily harm/injury, the type that many people saw on TV cannot be mere disciplinary offences. It seems there should be many more people investigated and arraigned before courts of law because clearly, these police officers were in a place they should not have been either on private hire or on orders of superior officers who had been induced to offer illegal police services to a private company.
Therefore, investigations must cover more officers than those captured on camera who were on the scene of crime and secondly, those within the Mukwano Group establishment who procured the implicated police officers.
Peripheral matters, like the victim’s employment status with Mukwano as excuses for beating him up almost to death do not justify the crimes committed but provide leads as to who should be questioned.
The officers arrested and those who sent them or procured them should all face criminal proceedings in court and consequently disciplinary measures, like suspension or termination of service, should follow during the court process and/or when convicted.
The good intentions of police will become a cover-up if the measures taken are just disciplinary measures and possibly paying the victim’s medical bills (not substantial at Mulago), which amount should in any case be recovered from the officers’ emoluments or terminal benefits. If no criminal prosecution in court takes place then all the accessories to the crime crimes will go scot free. The torture cops and their accomplices must be charged in a court, not a disciplinary tribunal.
The day before October 9, the 51st anniversary of independence, I was coming from my village in the South West and I met many convoys of the top leadership of the country (identified by their car official numbers and number of escort vehicles), all of them driving at break neck speed much higher than ambulances and traffic was cleared for some of them perhaps to enable them reach their final destinations for that day as soon as possible. As I saw them, many thoughts passed my mind. After such haste, I wondered what they would do that night since the purpose of their travel was the next day.
Perhaps some were just going to book into a hotel or go home, have dinner, go to sleep or do whatever people do in bed. The next day most of them would sit on uncomfortable chairs for a very long time listening to the Master of Ceremonies (MC) announcing who has come or who is going to sing or march or get a medal or speak, punctuated by standing or clapping and dosing for some who did not have a restful night.
These are innocuous past times. But attach money, and public money at that, to all these activities and then you can estimate how expensive the hasty driving, eating, drinking, sleeping, clapping and then again speedy driving to Kampala can be costly to the country and some individuals who may have died, got injured or paid their way to the celebration venue to get a medal or to be seen by the powers that be. And I heard the MC announce that every year such trips will be made to some other district for the independence anniversary celebrations.
Service providers, in addition to some workshops, seminars and launching of this or that programme or report, have a new source of revenue to look forward to but those who manage the Treasury have an added avoidable expenditure.
The chief guest, President Armando Guebuza, was a worthy and suitable guest and merited the top decoration. But I could not help recall that when he visited Kampala in 2005, after selection as a candidate for his first term, he could not meet the top leadership.
I was invited for dinner with him, a few NRM Secretariat officials and some old comrades and also later at the meeting with the Speaker. You see, at the time my record as one of the first six FRONASA leaders to train with FRELIMO at Nachingwea, Southern Tanzania, where President Guebuza, Samora Machel, etc., were based, had not yet been deleted from history.
Mr Ruzindana is a former IGG and former MP. firstname.lastname@example.org