TASO employee arrested over theft of HIV testing kits

Friday November 15 2019

The suspects at Mbale Central Police station on

The suspects at Mbale Central Police station on Wednesday. PHOTO BY YAHUDU KITUNZI 

By YAHUDU KITUNZI

Police in Mbale District have arrested a laboratory technician attached to The AIDS Support Organisation (TASO), over theft of about 60 HIV testing kits worth Shs2.7 million.

It’s alleged that Stephen Aupal requisitioned the testing kits from Bufumbo Health Centre IV on November 4, 2019 using a forged stamp and signature of the branch Manager. He later sold off the kits.

Elgon region Police Spokesperson, Robert Tukei confirmed the arrest on Wednesday and said the suspect informed detectives that he sold the HIV testing kits to Tash Biomedical Laboratory Supplies Company Limited, situated on Pallisa road in Mbale town.

“We have arrested him and he is currently detained. He committed a serious offense with two others, who are currently on the run,” Mr Tukei, said.

Mr Tukei noted that the suspect would be produced before court for stealing government testing kits after investigations are completed.

He added the case of fraud is registered under CRB 2002/2019 at Mbale Central Police station against the suspects.

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The Mbale District Health Officer, Dr Jonathan Wangisi, said the suspect defrauded them using a forged requisition form.

“We got a TASO staff who forged his supervisor’s stamp and signature and made a requisition through my office to get HIV testing kits. At that time we didn’t know that it was a fraud, “Dr Wangisi, said, adding after approving the requisition, he referred the suspect to Bufumbo Health Centre IV to get the testing kits.

“We realized that it was fraud when the suspect took another requisition in a period of one week and this prompted them to report case to police,” he said.

Dr Wangisi said a team of health officials are still conducting a search to find out where the suspect could have sold the kits.

The Inventory officer of Bufumbo Health Cnetre IV, Mr Menya Balonde, told Daily Monitor that released the testing kits to the suspect because he had requisition form from his branch manager approved by the DHO.

“I first gave him 60 HIV testing kits but surprisingly within short time, the same person came back with another requisition for more testing kits. I then contacted Manager TASO who told me he was not aware of any requisition,” Mr Balonde, said.

The manager TASO, Mbale branch, Dr Bonny Oryokot, declined to comment saying the case is under investigations.

“Let’s allow the process of investigation to continue and after that I will interact with you how it happened,” Dr Oryokot, said.

When Daily Monitor visited Tash Biomedical Laboratory supplies Company Limited, where the suspect is said to have sold the kits, the owner identified only as Mr Ambrose, dismissed the allegations.

“Much as the suspect is pinning us, I don’t do such business. Maybe the suspect is using that excuse to get off the hook.”

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