Protests after police dropped corpse outside Gulu hospital mortuary

Sunday May 5, 2019


Protests erupted in Limo Ward in Laroo Division in Gulu municipality in northern Uganda on Saturday after police abandoned a corpse outside Gulu hospital mortuary.

The body is said to have been dropped outside the facility by Police from Amuru District on Friday evening shortly after recovering it from an accident scene.

Residents claimed that they saw a police vehicle dropping the body wrapped in a black polythene bag at the entrance of the mortuary.

Residents mobilised themselves to protest saying police actions were traumatizing and dehumanizing. They demanded permission to bury the body along Pece Channel, about 30 meters south of the Hospital Mortuary.

Charles Ojok, one of the residents said they had gathered to bury the body at Pece Channel since Police and Gulu Municipal authorities had failed to take good care of it.

The residents threatened to lynch Richard Anyama, the Gulu Municipal Health Inspector for failing to compel Police to remove the body that was abandoned by their colleagues outside the mortuary. Anyama’s plea that he had gone to take the body for burial fell on deaf ears.

He fled the scene to Gulu Police station located some 50 meters west of the Morgue.

The chaos then prompted John Bosco Nyangkol, the Officer in Charge of Operations at Gulu Central Police Station to lead a group of suspects from the police cell to retrieve the body.

They arrived on a Police pick up with gloves on their hands under tight police security.

Their arrival provoked the angry residents to threaten the Police further. It took the intervention of the Gulu Municipality MP Lyandro Komakech and Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ochan among others to calm down the rowdy protestors.

The leaders condemned the Police action, saying they will follow up the matter with the Aswa River Region Police Headquarters and Gulu Hospital Administration.

The Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson, Patrick Jimmy Okema, said Police are dependent on the hospital mortuary to keep recovered bodies.

He however, couldn’t explain why the body was dropped at the entrance of the mortuary.

According to Okema, police could not reach the hospital administrator yet the mortuary is currently out of use.

An employee of the mortuary who declined to be named said the six refrigerators for storing bodies in the mortuary are out of use and in need urgent repairs.

He said only two are functional but already had two unclaimed bodies.

He said the hospital closed the mortuary last week after realizing that the refrigerators were no longer working. Most bodies recovered by Police from West Acholi districts of Omoro, Amuru, Nwoya and gulu are taken to Gulu hospital for postmortem.

Those unclaimed are buried by Gulu Municipal council in its public cemetery. Gulu Hospital mortuary is no stranger to drama like this.

Last year, three coffins were abandoned outside the mortuary by unknown people.