How Makerere student drowned despite efforts to save his life


Last night, a cold breeze swirled across Makerere University as sad news of the drowning death of a second-year arts student who has since been identified as James Uwimpuhwe hit the ears of everyone at campus.

We have since spoken to eye witnesses to get an account of what exactly happened to James and how he came to die.

According to an eye witness, James entered the university’s swimming pool at around 3pm on Sunday afternoon and was seen alone in the water trying to float.

“From the way he was holding the pole in the pool, it looked like he didn’t know how to swim,” an eye witness who saw James in the pool told the Nile post.

James was seen taking pictures while in the pool, as he rested his phone next to the pool and tried to float. He asked someone around the pool to assist him take pictures as he posed in the water but this was at the shallow end of the pool.

Minutes later at around 4pm, swimming pool attendants alerted the sports and recreation department whose office is just next to the pool, that a young man in his mid-twenties had drowned.

It happens that the head of the department, Peninah Kabenge was in office finishing up some work. Eye witnesses tell us that Peninah hurriedly asked the attendants to carry the young man that had drowned in the pool, to her car they drove off towards the Makerere’s main gate.

Those who were around before Joseph was carried to the car say that the swimming pool attendants tried to revive his breathing by giving him CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation), a recommended first aid given to someone who has just suffered taken water into their lungs. ‘They even tried mouth to mouth,’ an eye witness emphasized.

Nile Post has since spoken to one of the people who went with Joseph in Peninah’s car and confirmed to us that Joseph still had a pulse on the way to the hospital.

“At first we wanted to take him to the university hospital but we weren’t sure we would find oxygen, that’s all he needed,” one of the people who carried Joseph tells us. He continues and says that as they approached thw main gate, they later made up their minds and decided to take Joseph to Abii Clinic in Wandegeya.

“We drive on the wrong side of the road like an ambulance, we were in a rush, we thought we could save Joseph,’’ he says.

When they got to Abii Clinic in Wandegeya, they asked to see a doctor, even though there was some delay, a doctor later reached out to them but announced Joseph dead upon testing for his pulse.

At this point everyone who had brought Joseph to the hospital did not know what to do. They checked for his ID and found it in one of the pockets of his clothes with his phone.

His phone was locked and therefore his sim cards were taken out by the same people who carried him and placed them in another phone and tried making calls from contacts who were saved as ‘bro.’

Fortunately, one of his friends called Richard responded and made his way to the hospital.

By this time, his classmates and friends had gotten to know about the incident and had started flocking the clinic. One of his friends called Joseph’s mother on a Rwandan number and announced the death to her.

‘She was speaking in Kinyarwanda, we could not understand but she was in pain crying,’ Joseph’s friend tells us. He adds that the case was then reported to Police at about 8pm and police escorted the body to the mortuary where they are waiting to carry out a postmortem report.

Another friend who later unlocked James’ phone and pictures of him posing in water were seen. His friend suggested that this was James’ second time attempting to swim. ‘He did not know how to swim this must have been the second the time,’ his friend added.

James’ mother is in Rwanda and has since made her way to Kampala to sign on the form that allows the mortuary to carry out a postmortem and later collect the body for burial. A close friend to James told Nile Post that James’ father died a few years ago and that it his mother who has been paying his tuition.

This morning, the dean of students and university’s police were seen examining the pool led by the head of the sports and recreation department of the University, Peninah Kabenge.

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