Citizens petition court to exhume Semwanga’s body

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KAMPALA. Two separate lawsuits had by Friday evening, been filed in a bid to seek court’s orders to exhume the body of fallen socialite and businessman Ivan Sewanga, and remove the cash that was buried in his grave.
The law suits were filed by two concerned citizens; Abey Mgugu and Robert Ssenfuka before the High Court in Kampala.
In the first law suit that was filed by Mr Mgugu, the respondents include; A-Plus funeral management, and Bank of Uganda.

In his complaint, Mr Mgugu states that on May 30, he attended the burial of the late Semwanga who succumbed to stroke after spending about 11 days in coma and saw the managing director of A-Plus funeral management, controlling the funeral service at his ancestral village of Naklilo in Kayunga District at 4:40pm.
“That I saw some people placing/putting Uganda shillings in the denomination of Shs10,000, Shs20,000 and Shs50,000 in the grave of the late Semwanga before the deceased’s burial and I saw the same being buried along with the dead body,” Mr Mgugu states in his affidavit before court.

He added: “That I saw other people placing/putting South African rand and US dollars in the grave of the late Semwanga before the deceased’s burial and the same being buried with the dead body.”
Mr Mgugu goes on to fault Bank of Uganda and A-Plus funeral management for having allowed the ‘Rich Gang’ crew where Semwanga was a member, to put money in his grave before his burial.
The petitioner now wants the High Court to issue an order directing Bank of Uganda and A-Plus funeral management to open Semwanga’s grave and retrieve the money that was buried along his body.

According to him, the purpose of the money was misused or wasted thereby violating social and economic rights of other people.
In the second law suit Ssenfuka sued Bahati Lubega, a member of the ‘Rich gang’; Bank of Uganda and Attorney General.
Mr Ssenfuka contends that legal tender was thrown into the grave in full view of the police who provided security to Mr Lubega and other members of his crew.
The petitioner goes on to state that the legal tender is protected by law and that its criminal under section 367 of the Penal Code Act to destroy the same.
He adds that Bank of Uganda that is under the law, charged with protection of the legal tender has not taken any action against Mr Lubega and other members of his crew.

Rich send-off. Members of the Rich Gang crew

Rich send-off. Members of the Rich Gang crew splash money in Semwanga’s grave during his burial. PHOTO BY ALEX ESAGALA

“The plaintiff (Mr Ssenfuka) that the supply of the Ugandan shilling is carefully regulated by the Central Bank to ensure that inflation is controlled and once a certain amount of money is taken out of circulation other than for the purpose of trade, the inflation levels are distorted, a fact that has an impact on all Ugandans,” Mr Ssenfuka states in his complaint before court.
He adds that the Uganda shillings is not the property of the citizen holder and therefore one cannot use and abuse it as he wishes because it must be protected by everyone in Uganda.
Through his lawyers of Nakachwa & Partners Advocates, Mr Ssenfuka now wants court to declare that the actions of Lubega and his colleagues illegal.

He also wants an order for the inquest of Semwanga’s body to recover the money buried and return the same to Bank of Uganda for safe custody and release into the economy.
The petitioner also wants court to declare that the failure of the police to stop the said destruction of Uganda’s currency, as it was done in the presence of the police officers amounted to neglect of duty.
He also wants court to issue a permanent injunction against all persons living in Uganda never to destroy any legal tender be it Uganda currency of dollars.
By press time, court had not yet summoned the respondents to file their defence.
However, Bank of Uganda tweeted saying that although the actions of the ‘Rich Gang’ crew is not criminal, the money which was mishandled, is likely to be defaced, soiled or damaged, and thereby no longer serve the purpose for which it was intended.

“The national currency is minted and printed by the Central Bank to serve as; store of value, which means people can save it and use it later-smoothing their purchases over time; unit of account, that is, provide a common base for prices; or medium of exchange, something that people can use to buy and sell from one another. The shilling is valuable because Ugandans collectively ascribe value to it and entrust the preservation of its integrity to the Bank of Uganda. Because of its grand purpose and value it holds for us, the shilling deserves the status of a national symbol. This implies that our national currency should not be handled in a manner that is indecorous,” the bank said in a statement posted on their @BOU_Official.

Accordingly, the Bank called upon the public to refrain from any act, conduct or use of shilling notes and coins for purposes other than those for which the national currency is intended; or in a manner that results in the defacing, soiling or damaging of the Uganda shilling currency notes and coins.
“Indeed, proposed amendments to the Bank of Uganda Act include a clause that will criminalize any practices such as defacing, soiling, mutilation or other forms of disrespect to the national currency. The public will be informed of the amendment once it is concluded,” the statement reads further.

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