Rakai dormitory fire: Bursar on the run

The burnt dormitory at St Bernard’s Mannya SS.

Different security agencies in Rakai district are hunting for Joseph Sserunjogi, the bursar of St Bernard Secondary School, Manya in connection with the dormitory fire that claimed 10 students.

The incident,which occurred on the night of November, also left 36 injured and property worth millions of shillings destroyed. Sserunjogi is being treated as another key suspect in the case. bringing the number to seven.

Six other suspects currently on remand in Masaka Prisons areHalen Taremwa, Alex Junior Mugarura, Niyo Edison Elias and Dickson Kisuule (all students). Others are Michael Tayebwa, a security guard and Steven Nzeyimana, a Police officer.

Two weeks after their being remanded, investigating officers got new leads that Sserunjogi had a hand in the incident. Moses Sseruwu, the district security officer, yesterday revealed that on Tuesday, when officers from Internal Security Organisation (ISO) went to pick up Sserunjogi from school, he was tipped off by unknown persons, disguised himself and fled the compound.

“We are looking for him in connection with the case. He is one of our key suspects and there is a reward of sh5m for whoever will notify us of his whereabouts,” Sseruwu said.

Ben Nuwamanya, the Rakai district police commander, also confirmed the ongoing search for Sserunjogi. Nuwamanya said during a brief interaction with security, the bursar excused himself claiming he had not locked the office.

“When the ISO operative allowed him to lock the office, he mysteriously disappeared. He should turn himself in if he is innocent. Escaping from lawful custody creates suspicion,” Nuwamanya added.

A source close to the case said: “If Sserunjogi managed to escape through a secret exit, then the accused students must have used the same to escape after burning the dormitory.”

Mary Nassejje Ssemuju, one of the board members, said ISO operatives went to pick up Sserunjogi in the absence of the headteacher, Henry Nsubuga and the parish priest, Emmanuel Kiwanuka, who were attending a workshop in Masaka.

She added that Sserunjogi could not allow strangers to take him in without any administrator’s knowledge.

“The administrators were informed after his escape. And the rest of us only learnt about the matter over the radio,” she said.

By press time, Sserunjogi’s whereabouts were unknown. Sserunjogi’s relatives in Masaka said they last communicated with him on Tuesday morning. The wanted bursar was among staff who interacted with a government delegation that rushed to the school hours after the inferno.

Shortly after the incident, the Police arrested Henry Nsubuga, the school’s headteacher and three other staff. They were released after making statements. The six suspects who were remanded are expected to reappear in the Masaka Chief Magistrates’ Court today.

 It is from this court that their case will be committed to the High Court for further proceedings.

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Lukwago Joseph grew up in a newspaper family, and rumor has it that instead of playing the guitar in his infancy, his parents put a reporter’s notebook and a pen next to him shortly after he turned born eight years. Before becoming editor of UGANDANZ, Lukwago was a parliament news editor for WBS TV. He joined UGANDANZ in July 2018, A few months after the company launched. Lukwago also spent five years as a freelance reporter, where he covered reporting for the highest bidder, intelligence, foreign policy, and Ugandan police. Lukwago graduated from Makerere University in 2008 with a B.A. in Journalism and worked on his college newspaper.