South Sudan

S. Sudan: Gov’t, Rebels Counter-accuse Over Renewed Fighting

The High Court in Kampala on Friday morning set free Rosemary Namubiru, pharmacy a nurse who was recently convicted of injecting a baby with HIV+ blood earlier this year.

The then Buganda Road Chief Magistrate, Olive Kazarwe in May this year sentenced Namubiru to 3 years imprisonment after being found guilty of professional negligence contrary to section 171 of the penal code act for pricking a baby with a canular that she had earlier used on herself which the magistrate said exposed the child to a high risk of contracting HIV AIDS considering the fact that the accused was aware of the fact that she was HIV positive.

However Namubiru through her lawyers led by Steven Ssenkeezi appealed against the sentence stressing that the trial magistrate had failed to evaluate on record before convicting the 64 year old nurse.
According to Namubiru’s lawyers, there was inconsistence in the prosecution’s evidence adding that the sentence given to her was disproportional considering her advanced age, illness and being a mother.

On Friday morning, High Court Justice Lugadya Atwoki  stressed that it was a act of negligence for the nurse to use the same canular she had used on herself before to prick the baby adding that the nurse was well aware of the right procedures wthat she ought to have performed after pricking herself.

“She was a fully qualified professional health professional with an experience with not less than 30 years and she is therefore used to kids. Namubiru knew very well the standard procedure of putting down everything after pricking oneself, cleaning the affected part, plastering it and then throwing away the canular used in order to prevent a risk of spreading Hepatitis B and HIV AIDS,” the judge noted.
The judge added, “She however put the already used canular in the same tray which was wrong of a professional of 30 years experience. She disregarded the standard procedure and continued to use a contaminated canular she wasn’t sure of. These were acts of someone unconcerned with safety of patients especially where there was danger of contracting Hepatitis B and HIV AIDS.”
The judge therefore noted that it was an act of negligence for Namubiru who was well aware of her HIV status which according to the judge was further evidenced by Nsambya hospital where the 64 year old nurse used to go for her treatment.

On whether the evidence by the baby’s mother evidence was truthful, Justice Lugadya noted that there was no doubt the mother was the sole witness and her evidence was clear that the blood was from the nurse.

The judge further noted that the time of the day, distance between her and the nurse were favourable for the mother to observe what transpired on the fateful day.

“The mother had interest to see what would happen because her son was sick. She saw her plaster her finger, prick her finger and observed the nurse using the same canular on the baby unlike the nurse who says she doesn’t remember what happened,” the judge noted.

The judge further noted that before giving the sentence, the then Buganda Road Chief Magistrate was in consideration of the advanced age, ill health and being mother and therefore stressed that the 3 year sentence was rightful.

“This country is still grappling with incurable diseases and therefore court has a mandate to do something about it. This case was not about HIV AIDS as some members of society allege but  about negligence of health care professionals which would lead to spread of deadly diseases like Marburg and Ebola.”

However, in a twist of events, the judge said that Namubiru should be set free  considering the time she had spent in prison since her arrest but stressed that the nurse was guilty of negligence and the 3 year sentence earlier given to her was rightful..
The government of South Sudan and the rebel movement also known as SPLA-In Opposition are accusing each other of starting the renewed heavy clashes in the war torn nation.

Fighting erupted in Fangak Sub County, for sale Pigi County in Jonglei State on Wednesday this week with heavy shelling from both sides who are also engaged in a peaceful dialogue in the neighboring Ethiopia mediated by the regional block Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

The rebel side on Thursday immediately released a statement accusing the government forces of starting the offensive attack on their defensive positions in Jonglei state which suffered almost the worst in the 11 months conflict.

“South Sudan President, medicine Salva Kiir’s forces have renewed hostilities against our Combat units by launching simultaneous attacks on several of our defensive positions. The attacks commanded by Brig. Gen. John Maluit have occurred in places including Pachot, Maan-Nyang, Thak En Char, Dor and Biel.” A statement from the rebel movement`s military spokesman, Brig. Lul Koang said on Thursday.

The government forces` spokesman, Col. Philips Aguer confirmed the renewed fighting but again blamed the rebels for instigating the clashes.

Speaking to reporters in capital Juba, Col. Aguer said that even the SPLA commander the rebels are claiming to be leading the fighting in Jonglei is at their headquarters Bilpham, Juba over 200 kilometers away from the clashing point.

“Yes, it is true fighting started on Wednesday but it is not we who attacked them (rebels) as they are claiming in the media. They are the ones who started and as SPLA we are fully committed to peace talks and Cessation of Hostility.” Col Aguer said.

The rebel side again released another statement on Friday afternoon accusing the SPLA of torching down the town where fighting took place. The SPLA- IO also claimed that they only made a tactical withdrawal but were not defeated as SPLA is claiming.

“After three to four days of heavy shelling of Phom El Zaref, the Administrative HQs of Fangak County in northern Jonglei State by Government’s Artillery and Riverine Units, our Gallant SPLA Forces under overall command of Maj. Gen. Gabriel Tangiye completed tactical withdrawal from the town centre and took positions at vintage points. Kiir’s tribal army entered Phome El Zaref and deliberately burned down all the structures which survived the un-proportionate and destructive artillery, mortar fires used.” Another statement from rebels on Friday signed by Brig. Koang noted.


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