If there are people who have everlasting memories about this Covid-19, then 29-year-old, youthful Zack Kabagambe is one of them.
When president, Yoweri Museveni, announced the first lockdown intended to control the spread of Covid19, Kabagambe never thought he would be one of the first victims of security brutality enforcing the orders.
As you read this, Kabagambe is a one eyed man as a result of brutality that was unleashed to him in the first week of lockdown by Local Defence Units -LDUs. Museveni announced the first lockdown measures on March 18 but eight days later, Kabagambe came into reality with impact of Covid19.
Kabagambe’s eye lens was damaged in 10pm scuffle with LDUs something that has since left him as a one eyed man. The now 29-year-old, he has visited almost every eye specialist in Uganda but his right eye sight has not been rectified.
His visits to various ophthalmologists (eye and vision care specialists) at Georgina Eye Clinic,
Agarwal’s Eye Clinic and Mengo hospital have now confirmed to him that his eye will never see
He speaks with pain, deep thoughts perhaps unbelieving the fact that he will have to live with only one eye. Indeed, medical documents seen by this writer from Mengo eye clinic, Georgina eye clinic and Dr Agarwal’s all confirm that his right eye sight will never been rectified. Kabagambe has spent all his savings including parents’ money in a bid to regain his full sight but all that has been fruitless.
Kabagambe recollects that his Covdi19 troubles started at Kayunga taxi stage in Mukono municipality where he picked a Boda-boda to ride him to his home in Wanton village which is also within the same town.
“We had ridden for about 200 metres when LDUs encircled us holding sticks and batoons. I told my Boda-Boda rider not to panic because I was going to explain to them since I had all the identification documents. But the LDUs did not allow me to utter any word. They immediately pounced on me until I collapsed. At that moment my Boda-boda rider swiftly rode away to unknown direction,” Kabagambe says.
To prove that they were not bothered whether he was dead or alive, Kabagambe recalls LDUs proceeding with their foot patrols. About 10 minutes later, he regained his full conscious. The mind told him he need to rush home. But his efforts to walk proved impossible as he could not feel his right eye. The eye and cheek were swelling at a rocket speed.
At that moment he called his mother and narrated his ordeal. He was advised to rush to any nearby health facility for treatment. He went to Albert Cook clinic where he was given first aid but later referred to Mengo hospital.
Having received mild treatment at Mengo, Kabagambe was sent back home. He got some relief but the swelling did not stop. His friend advised him to visit Georgina Eye Clinic. The eye specialists informed him he had got a traumatic cataract. An ophthalmologist at Georgina Eye Clinic administered an injection into his eye. He got some relief but the pain later intensified.
“My mother decided to take me to Dr Agarwal eye clinic in Nakasero. I was informed that my lens got damaged. They told me it will never be able to see again. They advised me to accept they replace the lens at 6 million shillings or have an artificial one at 3.5 million shillings. We no longer have money for that,” Kabagambe says.
Kabagambe later opened a case at Mukono Police Station under reference number SD REF47/08/04/2020. The police officers entered an assault case. One of the policemen told Kabagambe that he was headed for a big task seeking justice from LDUs.
He informed the overall LDU commander for greater Mukono Lt Col Kalema. Kabagambe explains that efforts to get justice from LDU leadership have proved a hard nut to crack. He insists that Lt Col Kalema has been dodging his calls to date. But when approached by this writer, Lt Col Kalema said he does not remember receiving a complaint from anybody called Kabagambe.
“I have never received a complaint from that person. I am a friendly person and I listen to everyone. But I have never heard about that man’s case. But he can call me and we meet,” Lt Col Kalema said.
In the first Covdi19 year (2020), Uganda Human Rights Commission had registered 308 complaints majorly emanating from brutality unleashed to civilians by security agencies enforcing Covid19 orders. Similarly, the African Centre for Torture Victims –ACTV has recorded 960 cases of alleged torture and other cruel ill treatment as a result of enforcing Covid19 directives.
The Uganda penal code Act describes injuries subjected to Kabagambe as grievous harm. But when asked on why he intends to sue LDUs, Kabagambe says he knows he will not get justice. His fears are that he was moving in the night, sitting on a Boda-boda which had been banned from carrying passengers. He also fears that he will not have witnesses for his case since he does not remember the rider who in this case is the only witness.