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Nurse Accuses Media, Police of Mistreatment

A nurse accused of a most heartless crime has told of the emotional suffering visited on her by police and journalists in Kampala.

Victoria Medical Centre’s Rosemary Namubiru is on trial at Buganda Road court for allegedly trying to infect a two-year-old baby with HIV in January. She denies the charges.

In an emotional court testimony last week, Namubiru said she was traumatised during and after her arrest on January 7.

She also distanced herself from the charge-and-caution statement she recorded that day. Instead, Namubiru accused the police of mistreating her.

“During the one week I was detained at Wandegeya police station, this lady [Enid Namungu, investigations officer at Wandegeya] used to abuse me on a daily basis before her juniors, every morning during parade, saying: ‘This woman is a murderer, she deserves to be killed’. This is part of the trauma I went through during the entire week I stayed there,” said Namubiru, who was led by her two lawyers.

Namubiru’s lawyers wanted the charge-and-caution statement she recorded in reference to charges of attempted murder to be thrown out by court on the grounds that the charges were later changed to negligence. She told court that she was detained in a filthy uniport that had no toilet, but was surrounded by garbage and old, torn police uniforms.

She said her worst treatment was when Namungu paraded her before journalists, an act she inferred to mean the police considered her guilty.

“She [Namungu] was harsh to me all through. At least one of her juniors Miriam, who was investigating the case, pretended [to be understanding]… one day, many journalists with cameras were mobilised to ask me funny, inhuman and degrading questions. Though journalists were looking for news, police’s intention was to depict me as a criminal,” Namubiru said.

During cross examination, Enid Namungu, the eighth prosecution witness, admitted she invited journalists to interview Namubiru at the police station.

“My intention was not to traumatise her, nor had I found her guilty of the offence because my role is just to investigate, but [I invited journalists] to show the public that such allegations are serious in society. The accused voluntarily signed the charge-and-caution statement after I had explained and warned her about it,” Namungu said.

Earlier, expert witness Dr Richard Sekitoleko, from the department of Infectious Diseases at Mulago hospital, faulted Namubiru, saying that after pricking her finger, she should have removed the syringe and gloves she was using and washed her hands.

Sekitoleko said if a health worker was HIV-positive and heshe pricked herself before injecting a patient, it could put the patient at risk. This, however, would depend on the amount of blood taken into the syringe, and whether or not the health worker was on protective treatment.

Dr T Barungi, a police surgeon, told court that when he examined Namubiru, he found her mentally healthy.

Source : The Observer

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