A boda-boda rider has died after setting himself on fire inside Masaka Central Police Station traffic offices following failed attempts to recover his impounded motorcycle.
Eyewitnesses said Hussein Walugembe, 29, entered the office at around 8am and tried to negotiate with traffic officers he found inside to give him back the motorcycle which was reportedly impounded on Tuesday for allegedly flouting curfew guidelines.
“He had come to claim his motorcycle. The OC station referred him to the traffic office to have his motorcycle back but it seems the officers he found there frustrated him and he instead chose to burn himself,” Mr Yasiin Kalyango, a boda- boda cyclist at Shell stage said.
An unidentified traffic officer who was inside the office at the time of the incident, sustained burns and is admitted to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital.
Police officers at the station reportedly struggled to put out the fire using water in jerrycans but failed.
Police officers had to borrow a fire extinguisher from Shell Buddu filling station which is directly opposite the police station.
Mr Kalyango said the motorcycle was impounded from Walugembe’s colleague identified as Twaha Kaweesi.
He said police officers in the area usually ask for between Shs 100,000 and 150,000 from boda-boda riders whose motorcycles are impounded for flouting directives announced by the president to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Mr Henry Kimbugwe, another boda- boda rider and a friend to the deceased claimed police officers at Masaka CPS demanded for Shs 150,000 from Mr Walugembe to release his motorcycle and his pleas to cops to reduce the amount fell on deaf ears, prompting him to burn himself.
“We appeal to the Inspector General of Police, Mr Martin Okoth -Ochola and the security Minister, Gen Elly Tumwine, to investigate the conduct of some police officers in Masaka. Their level of corruption is unimaginable,” he said
Mr Enoch Abaine, the Southern Region police Commander revealed that Walugembe had been working with police to transport food supplies and was also staying in the police barracks.
“This incident is regrettable. We have already ordered Police Professional Standards Unit to investigate and once we find any of our officers culpable, he or she will face the law,” he said.
Walugembe’s body has been taken to Masaka Regional Referral Hospital for postmortem.