Mbarara, (UG): The Territorial Police in Rwizi Region and Mbarara City are holding two men accused on allegations of stealing corpses from the mortuary at Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital.
Robert Mucunguzi, an employee at Urban Funeral Services and Andrew Ainomugisha of Miles Funeral Services were arrested on Thursday morning by the hospital security team and are currently detained at Mbarara Central Police in Mbarara City.
DailyExpress has established that the two suspects were apprehended after clients complained of being coerced by the duo to take them to their funeral homes.
Halson Kagure, the Head of Communication and Public Relations at Mbarara Hospital told this publication there had been increasing cases of corpses leaving the ward without passing through the mortuary which he says is outside normal procedures, and this prompted the setup of a security surveillance team to nab the culprits.
Recently, the Hospital Director, Dr Celestine Barigye who also doubles as the Director of Health Services in the region was attending one of the talk shows where he expressed dissatisfaction with the persons who are charged upon losing their dear ones.
The no-nonsense Barigye is said to have threatened to fire his employees working in the Pathology Department should the vice continue but, in their defense, they blamed it on private funeral homes which deploy agents to decamp mortuary services yet MRRH is one of few hospitals with functional mortuary.
When the accused persons were arrested, Dr Barigye is said to have directed the Hospital Public Relations Officer (PRO) Halson Kagure and Senior Hospital Administrator (SHA) Francis Ojom to handle the matter.
Mr Ojom Francis accused the owners of Funeral homes of soiling the name of the hospital by saying that mortuary services are paid for.
According to Ojom, mortuary services are free of charge and in fact, suspects admitted to being used to force relatives to ditch the mortuary and go to funeral homes with a commission worth 200,000 shs per body.
“These people go ahead deceiving the members of the public that mortuary services are charged 500,000shs which he says is false,” Mr Kagure stated, adding that every patient who dies within the facility is supposed to be recorded.
According to Mr Kagure, “When a person dies on the ward, a medical certificate of cause of death is supposed to be issued out by medical personnel and then the body is prepared by the last office in a dignified manner before being sent to the mortuary.”
“When all processes are done in the mortuary, the gate pass is processed and issued out to the relatives of the deceased as an indication that it is allowed to be transferred from one place to another,” he added.
It is from here that a medical certificate of cause of death is taken to the Medical Records Department (MRD) which a Medical Records Officer bases on to issue a short death notification, a prerequisite to get a death certificate from NIRA.
Mr Samson Kasasira, the Rwizi Region Police Spokesman told this website that the suspects are currently at Mbarara Central Police Station with a general enquiry file opened as investigations into their accusations intensify.
Mr Kasasira warned owners of funeral homes on bending the right procedures of accessing bodies from the hospital adding that detectives will extract vital information to help them apprehend whoever has been involved in this vice.
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