A section of the boys’ dormitory that was ravaged by the February 22, 2022 fire. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI


How 12-year-old pupil was killed in school fire

What you need to know:

  • Matthew Amanya suffocated to death as he attempted to go back to the burning building to rescue his property.

There was a sombre mood at Good Times Primary School in Kawaala Village, Rubaga Division, Kampala, yesterday following a fire outbreak that left one pupil dead and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

Twelve-year old Matthew Amanya, who hailed from Wakiso District, was in Primary Six.

The mysterious fire broke out at midnight, triggering wild screams from the vulnerable pupils.
Overwhelmed with fear, the matron, Ms Brenda Aceng, called in security guards and teachers, who successfully evacuated all the 56 pupils before the heat built up.

The school assistant director of studies, Mr Ambrose Kabugo, told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday that upon evacuation, they then started to roll call the pupils by pairing them according to their bed numbers but realised one boy was missing.

“Our team managed to evacuate all the pupils but amid that confusion, one of our pupils went back to the dormitory [and] suffocated [to death]. After learning that he was missing, we went to check in the dormitory and found him lifeless at the entrance. It’s so unfortunate that we have lost our pupil, but all the other 55 pupils who were in the ill-fated dormitory didn’t get any injuries,” he said.

He said they managed to contain the inferno with fire extinguishers and sand until the police fire rescue team arrived.
The Uganda Police Fire Prevention and Rescue Services deputy director, Mr Hassan Kihanda, said investigations are ongoing to establish the cause of the fire.

“The school tried its level best to evacuate all the pupils from the dormitory. Unfortunately, against the principle of evacuation, the deceased escaped and went back to the dormitory and that is where he was suffocated by the fire and we lost him,” he said.

Some of the pupils’ property destroyed by fire is seen in the aftermaths of the incident on February 22, 2022. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

Mr Kihanda said the damage would have been big if the school didn’t have preventive measures such as fire extinguishers in place.

Parents had by 6am started flocking the school premises to check on their children but were denied access as detectives did preliminary investigations.

They sobbed silently and curiously craned their necks over the school’s perimeter wall to catch a glimpse of the proceedings inside the school.

“All I want to see is my boy because I am not sure whether he’s alive or not. The school should let us access the premises and explain to us what happened instead of locking us outside,” Ms Immaculate Nankunda, a parent, said.
Parents were later allowed to access their children for some minutes. 

Inside the school, teachers, pupils and non-teaching staff looked sad and didn’t entertain any media interviews.
The roof and walls of the burnt dormitory had already caved in, with some of the burnt property scattered all over. Management hadn’t established the value of the burnt property by press time.

Parents camp outside the school gate waiting to see their children after the fire incident on February 22, 2022. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

Asked what the school has found out so far from the CCTV cameras planted around the institution, Mr Kabugo said they would only be reviewed by authorities at a later time.

He urged parents and pupils to remain calm and bear with the school as they handle the situation.
Sources within the school intimated to this newspaper that the fire first broke out in Yonasani B, another boys’ dormitory at the school on Sunday afternoon but was quickly extinguished before causing any damages.

On whether they suspect the fires to have been started by bad elements around the school, Mr Kabugo said he couldn’t confirm it. The school is tucked between squalid structures off Kawaala Road.

One of the residents, who preferred not to be named, alleged that the school has had previous attacks from jealous people, a claim we couldn’t independently verify.

The chairperson of Rubaga Christian School Owners Association, Mr Benedict Ssaazi, asked the government to produce reports of fires that have previously gutted schools.