Money lender’s murder stirs debate on minimum wage, mental health

Kampala – The brutal killing of Uttam Bhandari, a city money lender by a Police officer, Ivan Wabwire, has stoked debate on mental health, minimum wage and exorbitant interest rates

Speaker Anita Among has asked government to speed up the introduction of the Salaries Review Commission to harmonise remuneration in the public service and cautioned that poor pay is no license to commit murder.

The Speaker, chairing plenary on Tuesday, equally asked government to regulate interest rates in the market to cushion citizens against exorbitant charges on loans.

“…mental health issues must be worked on; moneylenders must not charge exorbitant interest rates; we need to hear from government on the salaries and remuneration commission, and the government should also come in and regulate interest rates,” she said.

On the day of the Friday, May 12, 2023 shooting, a Police spokesman said Wabwire, now charged in court for the shooting of Bhandari, was being managed for a mental health condition. However, in a sharp turn of events, the Police authorities said he was of sound mind.

It was not lost on MP Emmanuel Ongiertho the Jonam County MP that the suspect had opted for a commercial loan instead of the Police’s EXODUS Cooperative Savings and Credit Society Ltd (SACCO), which in the recent past was riddled with allegations of corruption.

“The issue of minimum wage for officers like that (Ivan Wabwire); I know we do not want to talk about minimum wage, but it is very important; there is a lot of mess in the Police SACCO…ordinarily, that officer would be borrowing from the SACCO,” he said.

Speaker Among noted that Parliament in the recent past investigated the SACCO after a whistle-blower claimed that Police big-wigs are using SACCO funds for self-enrichment and are reluctant to allow members access to their own funds using a strict saving plan as a ruse.

MP Joseph Ssewungu the MP Kalungu West County asked government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs to present a detailed statement on the recent spate of assassinations in the country for proper debate and solutions.

Similarly, MP Paul Akamba (Busiki County) called for stricter gun control measures, arguing that whereas drivers of motor vehicles are bound by traffic laws such as non-intoxication when driving, he said it is not clear under what conditions even a licensed firearm holder carrier should not carry the weapon.

He called for routine mental health tests on all firearms carriers to avert possibilities of a mentally incapable person using arms to harm, maim and kill.

Akamba called for stricter gun control measures and routine mental health tests on all firearms carriers.

Police say they have issued stringent guidelines on gun handling and use of force to all their officers in a bid to avoid repeat of such crimes.

Fred Enanga the police mouthpiece said yesterday that they are now identifying police officers for refresher courses on gun handling, scenario-based exercises, anger management and de-escalation techniques.

“… we believe these initiatives will help improve public trust and confidence and even promote better gun handling skills and improve Community safety in the public,” he said

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