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Fourth Year Makerere Medical Student Attempts ‘Suicide’ Over Suspension from University

By Our Reporter

 

NATIONAL

 

Isaac Byaruhanga, a fourth-year student of Makerere University studying medicine and surgery has been hospitalised after attempting to take his own life on Friday.

Byaruhanga allegedly tried to kill himself after being informed of his indefinite suspension from the university alongside his colleague Arnold Muganga. The duo was suspended by vice chancellor, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe who accused them of engaging in an unsanctioned guild presidential campaign debate known as “kimeza,” which had resulted in a violent altercation and left one student hospitalized.

 

In his suspension letter dated April 6, 2023, Nawangwe stated that Byaruhanga “particularly started the fight that resulted in the severe injury of one of the university students, a one Sserunjoji Robert who is, as a result, currently hospitalized at Makerere University hospital.”

According to reports, Sserunjogi, a second-year student from the college of Natural Sciences (CoNAS), sustained injuries during a violent altercation that ensued between Margaret Nattabi of the National Unity Platform (NUP) and Sula Namwoza, an independent candidate who had entered Mitchell hall for the highly anticipated “kimeza.” 

 

However, Byaruhanga expressed shock over the suspension, stating that he was surprised by the allegations levelled against him as he was not involved in whatever he was being accused of. He categorically denied any physical altercation that led to Sserunjoji’s injury. He now says that he has contacted his lawyers and is contemplating taking legal action against the university for the suspension that is affecting his mental health and concentration. 

“Right now it is disturbing my mental health, I don’t feel fine right now, am not concentrating because I have so many issues that have been running in my life and when I have added up this one, I feel it is too much for me,” Byaruhanga said.

Meanwhile, Sulaiman Namwoza, whose candidacy was also disqualified after participating in the “kimeza”, said that he was summoned by the hall leaders to take part in the activity and had no choice but to comply with the request to secure the hall’s endorsement for his campaign.

It is worth noting that physical campaigns were prohibited when Makerere University implemented the new 2022 Students’ Guild statute, which specifically prohibits physical campaign activities. Article 10 (b) of the statute states that “Student elections at the university shall be virtual unless otherwise determined by the university.” 

Additionally, Nawangwe interdicted Dhubanji Xavier, the custodian of Mitchell hall based on reports from the chief security officer that he was allegedly absent from duty without permission at the time of the incident.

“In order to ensure the safety and security of the students, staff, and property of the university community, especially at Mitchell hall, I hereby interdict you from university services with immediate effect,” reads part of the letter.

Nawangwe further stated that a committee will be constituted to investigate Dhubanji’s alleged conduct, and he will be invited to participate in the proceedings. During the interdiction, the custodian will receive half pay of his salary and is not allowed to access the university premises, offices, and/or property.

Understanding kimeza at Makerere

When Makerere goes to polls, it is customary for candidates to solicit support from the most influential halls of residence, including but not limited to Mitchell, Lumumba, Mary Stuart, and Complex halls. It is widely believed that obtaining an endorsement from any of these halls guarantees a significant boost in campaign support for the candidate in question.

As part of the endorsement process, most candidates are typically required to participate in a debate, which offers them a platform to present their campaign manifesto and persuade hall members to support their bid.

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