How protesting mortuary staff caused scare at Luweero office

A mortuary attendant takes away the two bodies earlier dumped at Luweero Town Council offices to the public cemetery for burial on December 6, 2023. PHOTO/DAN WANDERA

What you need to know:

  • The foul smell from the decomposing human corpses was unbearable at the offices.

For at least two hours, Luweero Town Council offices on Wednesday morning remained a no-go area after two corpses were dumped at the entrance by protesting mortuary attendants from Luweero Hospital.

Even after the town council authorities met the mortuary attendants and convinced them to go and bury the two bodies with a promise to clear their allowances, a section of the workers stayed away from the premises in fear.

A town council official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprimand, claimed that she could not go to the offices until she was sure the area was safe and possibly cleansed by a spiritual leader.

“I got scared even after the two bodies that had been dumped at the offices were removed. I got more scared when pictures of the two abandoned bodies were shared on different social media platforms,” the official said on Wednesday.

The foul smell from the decomposing human corpses was unbearable at the offices until the protesters retrieved them after a brief meeting with some council officials.

The wrapping of the decomposing bodies in body bags and then transporting them on a motorcycle was also unbearable for some of the onlookers.

“While I support the mortuary attendant’s move to demand for their allowances, the protest was ugly because the decomposing corpses were not in their respective body bags. This caused more scare to our children that stay near the offices,” Ms Rashida Namatove, a resident of Kiwogozi Zone in Luweero Town Council, said.

But the mortuary attendants supported their action, claiming that they are not given the body bags, among other materials, required to safely move the unclaimed bodies to the public cemetery for burial.

“We have no means of transport. We used a motorcycle to transport the abandoned bodies from the mortuary to the town council cemetery to show our anger. We are not facilitated to do the work yet the bodies remain unclaimed at the mortuary for more than four days,” one of the attendants claimed.

The two bodies had been picked from the Luweero Hospital mortuary by the attendants in the morning hours and dumped at the entrance of the town council offices.

The mortuary attendants accuse the Luweero Town Council authorities of failing to pay their respective allowances between the months of April and November 2023. The attendants reportedly demand Shs990,000 that has not been cleared.

Town council vice chairperson Nathan Lumu told journalists that the delay to have the allowances cleared was a result of the small revenue resource envelope.

“We have talked to the mortuary attendants and will soon clear their unpaid allowances. We are struggling in managing some of the services, including the burial of the unclaimed bodies at Luweero Hospital,” Mr Lumu said.

Early this year, the management of Luweero Hospital appealed to the district authorities over the increasing costs incurred in managing unclaimed human bodies.

The bodies are in many cases dropped at the hospital mortuary by the police and remain unclaimed for more than three days. According to the senior hospital administrator, Mr Robert Lukeng, this calls for an additional budget to ensure that they are transported and buried at the cemetery.

On average, about nine unclaimed bodies are registered at Luweero Hospital mortuary per month, the facility records reveal.