Frustrated Man Sets Own Car Ablaze In Protest Against Uganda Police

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A 49-year-old man on Tuesday evening shocked residents of Elegu town, Amuru district at the Uganda-South Sudan border when he set his car ablaze in protest.

Suudi Balidawa, a driver and mechanic at Elegu reportedly drove his car, a Toyota Wish, registration no. UBE 852E to an open field where he doused its interior with petrol before setting it ablaze. The incident happened at about 5 pm at Lorikwo East village in Elegu, a few distance from Elegu police station.

Balidawa said in an interview that his action was fueled by what he alleged as targeted discrimination by a police officer for his Muslim faith. According to Balidawa, trouble started for him on May 7 this year when he accidentally knocked an old woman from Kanyanya in Kampala en route to Gulu city.

Balidawa said while he managed to transport the injured woman to Mulago National Referral Hospital for treatment, he never reported it to the police since he was transporting his daughter to St Mary’s Hospital Lacor for medical treatment.

He however noted that he met with the injured woman’s son and agreed to return to the hospital later for other arrangements regarding medical expenses. According to Balidawa, he received a phone call later from a police officer at Kanyanya police station who advised him to report the matter to any nearby police station which he heeded and reported to Elegu police station on May 9.

He was charged with an offence of road traffic accident registered under case No: TAR27A/2024 and later bonded but advised to report to Kanyanya police station the following day. Balidawa however alleged that while at Kanyanya police station, he was rudely treated by the officer in charge of the station and detained even when he had earlier been given a police bond from Elegu police station. 

He alleged that after his release, the officer at Elegu police station gave an order to him not to drive the vehicle outside Elegu town council even when he had already paid for vehicle inspection, a move he says forced him to burn it down. Balidawa noted that he had already agreed with the family of the injured woman to pay Shs 3 million for medical expenses within 25 days adding that the first payment of Shs 1 million had already been made.

“That very evening, I went and boarded the vehicle. By 6 in the morning, I was already in Kampala. I went to the police station even before 7 a.m. I called the complainant Mr Eddie and told him that I was here at the station. Nobody took me there, I took myself. But when she [the police officer] came with her car, I went there and introduced myself before her that I was so and so who caused the accident but the way she answered me; she said: ‘You’re the one?’ I said ‘I’m the one’. She said ‘I wonder if all muslims are like you people. If all Muslims are like you guys, Muslims are really bad people. You’re bad-hearted.’ I said ‘How mummy? What have I done? I took the victim to the hospital and handed him over to the relative’,” said Balidawa.

David Ongom Mudong, Aswa West River Region police spokesperson on Wednesday said that the police have opened an investigation into Balidawa’s action to ascertain the motives. He said the police fire brigade personnel responded to the scene but found that fire had already consumed a great portion of the vehicle.

Mudong acknowledged that Balidawa had an active case of a traffic offence at Kanyanya police station in Kampala which was still under investigation by the traffic police.

“We want to understand why he burnt down his car since he already had a traffic accident offence in Kanyanya. the suspect could be having other hidden motives,” said Mudong.

URN understands that Balidawa was on Tuesday briefly held by the police at Elegu police station between 7 pm and 10 pm for interrogation on his actions before being set free without any charges. Mudong said the suspect would be charged with arson once the investigation is complete.  

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