CAPE TOWN – A Ugandan motorbike taxi driver has committed suicide in a police station by setting himself alight after failing to retrieve his impounded vehicle.
Hussein Walugembe’s motorbike was impounded on Tuesday because he reportedly did not adhere to Uganda’s coronavirus curfew, according to Daily Monitor.
He went to Masaka Central Police Station on Thursday morning to retrieve his motorcycle, and when he was unable to do so, he poured petrol over his body and set himself alight, The Independent reported.
There were conflicting reports surrounding the details of the incident.
Henry Kimbugwe, Walugembe’s friend, claimed that police officers at Masaka Central Police Station demanded US$43 for the release of his motorbike and after being unable to have the amount reduced, he set himself alight, according to Daily Monitor.
Yasiin Kalyango, a fellow motorcycle taxi driver, said: “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.”
Agnes Namubiru, another friend, said police asked for US$26 and he couldn’t raise the money, which resulted in the suicide, according to The Independent.
Meanwhile, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported that the police officers demanded a US$10 bribe, which Walugembe did not have, and that led to the suicide.
The incident prompted Walugembe’s colleagues to stage a protest at the police station, where tensions were high, the Independent reported.
Southern Region Police Commander Enock Ambaine has instructed the Professional Standards Unit to investigate the incident as well as the officer who was involved, since US$10 is the fee for operating after curfew.
On June 22, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda eased the country’s lockdown regulations, Daily Monitor reported. Curfew remains in place between 7pm and 6.30am. Motorbike taxi drivers are still prohibited from carrying passengers and only cargo is allowed.
As of July 2, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recorded 893 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Uganda, with no deaths.
African News Agency