Rogers Kiboneka, a resident of Tirinyi town council in Kibuku district is nursing injuries after loosing a hand when a tear gas canister shattered it during an operation by Umeme who were conducting an operation against illegal power connections on Friday morning.
Kiboneka is currently at Mbale regional Referral Hospital where he was rushed by his relatives after part of his right hand was shattered. He says the Police stormed Tirinyi town council at night in their operations and threw a tear gas canister into his house.
He said that the police officers and officials from Umeme knocked at his door and when he tried to open after taking long, a teargas canister was thrown into his house and it blasted on his hand when he tried to throw it out.
Kaboneka, said he was trying to save his children from suffocating when he tried to throw out the canister adding that after the incident the Police officers headed by one ASP Elwelu who commanded the operation bandled him on a Umeme truck and dropped him at Budaka Health Center IV where he was picked by relatives to Mbale Hospital where he is currently hospitalized.
Kaboneka’s Mother Reachel Musakuna, said that now her son’s life has been shattered since he has got a permanent disability.
Teyita Sam, Kaboneka’s elder brother also wonders why Umeme conducted an operation at that time and how officers would throw a teargas canister in a small room.
Ivan Wampula, the Mayor Tirirnyi town council said that although Kaboneka is a known suspected power thief, it was not necessary for Umeme and police officers to use brutal means of apprehending him.
According to Wampula, the time of the operation was also not right and that the Umeme never informed the local leaders who would have sensitized the community about the night operation and avoided such incidents that led to the use of force which has now permanently disabled the suspect.
While the suspect and his relatives claim the operation and incident occurred at 9:00am in the night, the Umeme Head of Communications Peter Kauju says it was between 6:00 am and 7:00am in the morning.
Kauju said that the Kaboneka became violent and was wielding a panga, eliciting the use of tear gas which shuttered off his hand when he tried to return it adding that umeme has now opened a case against him for obstructing a lawful operation.
Hasan Munyolo, the LCI Chairperson of Tirinyi Central B where the incident occurred also said Umeme’s operation started at 2:00am but they were never informed as local leaders. He said when the police and Umeme officers arrived in the area, they started by knocking people’s doors and when Kaboneka refused to open, they threw a canister into his house.