The High Court in Kampala has ordered government to compensate a Makerere University Business School graduate who was hit by a stray bullet in the neck.
In November 2013, Grace Nabwami, then a student at MUBS was forced to discontinue studies when a stray bullet hit her in the neck after being discharged by a policeman who was chasing a knife-wielding thug in Kabalagala, a Kampala suburb.
She later dragged government to court .
On Friday, Justice Musa Ssekaaana ruled that the policeman was negligent when he released a bullet that ended up hitting Nabwami in the heck while she sat at her home.
“It is the duty of a reasonable police officer not to harm innocent civilians in the course of executing his duties of enforcing law and order. Prudent and reasonable police officers do not behave in such a manner of shooting aimlessly or randomly as to amount to carelessness. Such a police officer is liable for careless act since he is under a legal duty to take care towards other persons in the course of executing the constitutional mandate of enforcing law and order,”Ssekaana said.
“In addition, if a police officer owes a duty of care and commits a breach of that duty, he is said to have committed negligence.”
The judge ruled that government admitted liability when Police officers visited Nabwami , she recorded a statement but received no assistance in terms of financial support or medical care while in hospital .
“In the circumstances of this case, it is clear that the defendant admitted liability when they visited the plaintiff and when she went to make a statement at Kabalagala Police Station. They ignored or refused to given any medical care or financial support to mitigate the damage.”
In his suit, Nabwami had asked for shs200 million in special and general damages for the inconvenience, pain, incapacitation and trauma among other effects to her by the bullet that hit her.
The judge however ruled that the money was too much and noted that she should be compensated to a tune of shs75 million.
“This claim( of shs200 million) is on a higher side and considering the nature of suffering, the plaintiff went through and expenses she failed to prove as special damages, the plaintiff is awarded a sum of 75,000,000/= as general damages. The plaintiff has not made out a case for award of exemplary and aggravated damages. There was nothing aggravating,” Justice Ssekaana ruled.
The judge also ordered government to pay costs that Nabwami has incurred into the case.