The Uganda Human Rights Commission has officially received a petition from Kampala street hawkers under their Association, Fuba Tukole Hawkers and Vendors Association. Led by Uwineza Kalera, the systems analytical officer, the vendors had a catalogue of complaints put together in one document which they presented to the Commission.
“We have been investigating these issues for two years from 2017 to 2018. Very many things have happened to us in those past two years; we have been tortured, have lost our colleagues but no one has come to our rescue. Even police have not helped us in any way,” Kalera who led a group of 10 executive committee members and other fellow hawkers and vendors stated in his introductory remarks.
He flipped through the complaint highlighting some of the cases they want the Commission including that of Widow Basemera who died allegedly at the hands of Kampala Capital City (KCCA) Law enforcement officers and left behind children.
“When we demonstrated against KCCA actions they got only Shs5m and gave to the family but what can Shs5m do to take care of children school fees and upkeep,” Kalera wondered.
He said they have filed a number of complaints to Kampala Central Police Station (CPS) but their complaints are not followed or investigated. He said at one time former Division Police Commander (DPC) Joseph Bakaleke had started following their complaints and taking action, only for the police leadership to transfer him to Kiryandongo district. He highlighted another case of Kisitu, a person with disability (PWD), whose clutches were allegedly taken away by KCCA enforcement officers and left with no support, a child who was injured by a stray bullet on Jesco building as the KCCA enforcement officers violently arrested vendors and he/she now has a twisted neck plus a lady vendor who was carried and thrown onto a KCCA pick-up truck and she got a miscarriage.
The other complaint was about KCCA court at City Hall which, the hawkers say, just remands them in prison without recording any statement or hearing their side.
“On November 26, 2018, KCCA and police teargased Janat and her eyes were shattered. We have pictures where enforcement officers are getting hand hoes handles and beating up vendors. KCCA has taken away happiness from our homes, our family and our clans. We are facing psychological torture and emotional distress because of KCCA and police in the city,” he said.
He said himself was attacked and all things in his store taken. He was employing four young men but now they are as jobless as him and their children aren’t going to school. He said police within the city detains vendors and other people for three to four days without taking them to court and they have tried to petition and seek an appointment to meet the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Okoth Ochola about it but they have been blocked.
“We have Ms. Teddy Namubiru here. She was vending tea but was beaten by KCCA who burst her eardrums. What intrigues us is that every morning those officers receive tea in their offices and we wonder why they beat a vendor selling tea of just Shs1000/= to local people who cannot afford tea sold at Shs10,000 in those big hotels,” he said.
The hawkers had sought to present their petition to the Director Complaints, Investigation and Legal Services (D/CILS), Ms. Ida Nakiganda but she delegated the Commission Registrar Ms. Dorcus Musiimenta who received their complaint on behalf of the Commission. She was flanked by the head of Vulnerable Person Unit Ms. Priscilla Nyarugoye and Human Rights Officer Legal Sheila Bwebare. Musiimenta assured the traders that the Commission will diligently investigate their complaint and get back to them as soon as possible.