The family of Matthew Mushabe, the toddler at the centre of a case involving the 64-year-old nurse who was freed on Friday, has expressed its outrage over the court ruling.
In May, Rosemary Namubiru was found guilty of professional negligence by Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court and sentenced her to three years in prison. She had been prosecuted after she injected the three-year-old boy with the same needle that had pricked her own index finger. Namubiru is HIV-positive, but Matthew was later found not to have contracted the virus.
On Friday, following an appeal against the earlier ruling, Justice Albert Rugadya Atwoki of the High court argued that while Namubiru had exhibited “gross negligence,” the 11 months that she had spent at Luzira prison was sufficient punishment for the crime. He set her free.
After the ruling, Dan Mushabe, Matthew’s father, suggested to The Observer that the judge’s decision was a licence for other health workers to act negligently.
“The ruling is discouraging,” said Mushabe, accompanied by his wife Ruth. “We are not seeking for retribution but we are deeply disappointed. The sentence should have been maintained because health workers need to learn a lesson from this nurse.”
A few metres away, Namubiru’s relatives were crying tears of joy following her release. Some said the ruling offered some reprieve to Namubiru, who the media and the general public had judged from the beginning.
While upholding Namubiru’s conviction, Justice Rugadya said the nurse, who has over 30 years of experience, had flouted medical procedures when she re-used a cannula which was already contaminated with her blood.
Rugadya said that though he had set Nambiru free, it doesn’t mean that courts condone unprofessional behaviour by heath workers. Namubiru’s lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, told The Observer that he was going to the Court of Appeal to have the conviction quashed because the incident was “purely accidental”.
Source : The Observer