Security officers have today arrested Paul Mubiru, the passenger who sold grasshoppers, locally known as nsenene, aboard Uganda Airlines flight 446 on Friday.
According to three passengers who traveled with Mubiru aboard Uganda Airlines flight 445 from Dubai, the trader was arrested by immigration officers at the arrivals section at Entebbe International Airport. The aircraft landed today at 11:49am.
Mubiru was arrested after being swabbed at the airside by medical workers in the ongoing mandatory Covid-19 testing exercise for all incoming passengers.
A passenger who says Mubiru was in front of him at the arrivals section says he was approached by two immigration officers after he removed his cap and shades.
“But I think they already knew him because even before he had removed his cap the officers were looking at him curiously,” the passenger said. ‘They later moved out with him. His fellow traders will handle his baggage.”
Another passenger told our reporter that Mubiru was whisked away in a private vehicle that was parked at the apron, where planes park. The vehicle was parked close to the entrance of the arrival section.
“Some passengers may not have noticed Mubiru being arrested because the whole episode lasted about three minutes,” the third passenger said.
“He really embarrassed Ugandans abroad because every foreigner especially Kenyans have made us a laughing stock,” the passenger says.
Mubiru is feared to be detained at the Aviation police station in Entebbe.
However , Luke Owoyesigire the Kampala Petropolitan Police spokesperson was yet to comment on the matter.
Mubiru’s woes started after he was seen in a video selling grasshoppers as other passengers boarded the flight at Entebbe.
The incident, which has since gone viral on social media, happened before the airline’s Airbus 330-800Neo departed for Dubai at Entebbe International Airport on Friday, November 26.
Mubiru, in videos circulating on social media, was seen selling grasshoppers for 10,000 shillings in a transparent polyethylene bag. It is evident that some of the passengers were excited while others acted in disbelief or ignored what was going on.
Mubiru has since apologized for his actions, saying he was hawking the grasshoppers for comical purposes.
In the letter dated November 27 and a video in both English and Luganda, Mubiru apologized to the management of the airline and the ministry of works and transport.
However, Thaddeus Musoke, the chairperson of Kampala City Traders Association-KACITA says that even though Mubiru has apologized, he will have to be punished. Musoke says Mubiru is a purchasing agent for several city traders who do not want to travel to Dubai.
Musoke says, “How could a frequent traveler like him do such a thing? He cannot go unpunished because he even refused to listen to fellow traders and airline crew who told him not to sell nsenene.”
He says that traders will decide on Mubiru’s date during a meeting that will be held during this week.
Musoke says KACITA is not impressed with Mubiru’s behaviour and that his apology cannot undo the tainted image inflicted on the airline.
The airline has also condemned Mubiru’s actions saying, “No one should be exposed to an unruly market experience on our flight. The unacceptable, disruptive behavior prevents the performance of critical duties of the flight crew.”
In a statement issued on November 27, the airline said, “We don’t condone the acts of the passenger selling nsenene and low standards of serving it to people who were buying it.”