In a recent ruling, the Kampala High Court has ordered the government to compensate Ms. Hajara Nakitto, the mother of 15-year-old Amos Ssegawa, who tragically lost his life during the November 2020 protests in Kampala. The court has granted Ms. Nakitto 50 million Ugandan shillings as compensation for her son’s death.
Amos Ssegawa, a student at Lubiri High School at the time, was fatally shot during the protests that erupted following the arrest of then-presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine. The riots took place in various districts, including Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso, and Masaka, from November 18 to 20, 2020.
Ms. Nakitto, devastated by her son’s killing, filed a petition with the court, asserting that her life had been shattered as a result. She had lost her job and now suffered from nightmares. In her petition, she sought 200 million shillings as compensation and an additional 5 million shillings in punitive damages.
Justice Musa Ssekaana, presiding over the case, ruled that Ssegawa’s right to life, as guaranteed by Articles 20 (2) and 22 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995, had been violated by the shootings and killing in the city. The judge concurred with the applicant’s counsel that the young boy had died due to a stray bullet fired during the efforts to quell the riots, with no meaningful defense presented by the Attorney General.
Given the chaotic atmosphere during the riots and the fact that it was a campaign period leading up to the 2021 presidential election, the court acknowledged the difficulty of identifying the shooter as either a soldier or a policeman. The judge also concluded that punitive damages were not warranted in this case.
As a result, Justice Ssekaana ordered the government to pay the 50 million shillings to Ms. Nakitto as compensation for her son’s death. The court also directed the government to cover the legal costs incurred by Ms. Nakitto during the prosecution of her case.
Ms. Nakitto expressed her dissatisfaction with the court’s decision, noting that it fell short of her requested amount of 200 million shillings. However, she emphasized the urgency of receiving the money to pay her lawyers and appealed to the government to expedite the compensation process, as promised by President Museveni in the aftermath of the shooting.
At the time of his tragic death, Amos Ssegawa had been assisting his mother with various business tasks and had accompanied her to sell clothes at a shop in the city.
In response to the court’s decision, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, praised Ms. Nakitto’s relentless pursuit of justice for her son. He acknowledged that while the awarded amount was inadequate compared to the loss suffered, it had officially documented the illegal killing of her son by the Museveni regime. However, he expressed uncertainty about whether Ms. Nakitto would receive the compensation.