The father of Lt Patrick Nahamya, a UPDF pilot who died in a helicopter crash in Kenya in August 2012, has sued his son’s widow over the compensation money.
Rev James Katamunanwire wants the UPDF to pay Shs160 million to him, not Ms Constance Amanya.
Lt Nahamya and six other soldiers died in a helicopter crash in Mount Kenya as the crew travelled to Somalia for the African Union military operations against the al-Shabaab insurgents.
Rev Katamunanwire sued his daughter-in-law in the High Court in June last year after UPDF informed him that the money for compensation of his son’s death would be paid to Ms Amanya, who is indicated as the deceased’s next of kin.
“…I and family members freely sat in a meeting wherein everybody unanimously resolved that I serve as the administrator of Lt Patrick Nahamya (my deceased son) and the respondent (Ms Amanya) cannot depone as to the proceedings of that meeting,” reads part of the Rev Kamunanwire’s petition drafted by his lawyers, Mushabe, Munungu and Company Advocates. He says his family does not know Ms Amanya as the deceased’s next of kin.
Ms Amanya and the late Nahamya were not officially married but were staying together and had three children.
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Rev Katamunanwire said he wants to take care of his grandchildren but Ms Amanya has refused to hand them over to him.
Through her lawyers, Ms Amanya says after the death of her spouse, Rev Katamunanwire “ordered” her to take him to UPDF offices in Bombo and change information on Lt Nahamya’s file to replace her as the next of kin. “He later took the pension forms that were given to me to fill in for the deceased’s pension. He hid them and got forms, but later failed to access the money,” she said in her statement to court.
When contacted, Capt Kiconco Tabaro, the UPDF Air Force spokesperson, said they are ready to pay but have to respect court decision.
“The compensation money is there and we are ready to pay. But the UPDF Chieftaincy of Pensions and Gratuity cannot pay when there are different interested parties to the claim. As Air Force, we have no efforts, directly or indirectly, to delay, deny, tilt or affect in whichever way the compensation claim. But in circumstances where there are different parties interested, we give them time to sort themselves out,” said the Air Force spokesperson, .
He said since the matter has been taken to court, the army will respect the rule of law and wait for the court to determine the right claimant to the compensation.
only family yet to be compensated
Out of the seven bereaved families, it’s only the late Nahamya’s which has not been compensated because of the ongoing wrangle over the right claimant to the benefits. The army tried to arbitrate but the two parties failed to meet.
On November 2, 2012, four months after the crash, Col Charles Lutaaya, the then acting Chief of Staff for the Air Force wrote to Brig Proscovia Nalweyiso, the senior Presidential Private Secretary, asking her to intervene. “The meeting observed that Rev James Katamunanwire had got a misunderstanding with Constance Amanya (widow and next of kin) on the meaning and the role of the next of kin as used in the army,” he wrote.