KAMPALA: Eight Makerere University students are on suspension for allegedly destroying property during a scuffle between residents of Mitchel and University Hall. They are Collin Musiime Chemonges, David Mutesasira, Muhammadi Luzzi, Zekelea Sengendo, Joel Mujulizzi, Luzige Kizito, Yunusa Lubega, and Raymond Ocheng.
They are accused of engaging in acts of hooliganism by mounting roadblocks on the campus, throwing stones at buildings and lighting fires on signposts and roads. The suspension of the students followed clashes between the students of the two halls that started on Friday night and spilt into Saturday morning.
In the suspension letter to the affected students, Professor Henry Alinaitwe, the Acting Makerere University Vice-Chancellor, said that over 150 windowpanes across 91 windows at both Mitchel and University Halls were shattered.
Further assessments are ongoing to determine if other university properties were destroyed in the altercation, Professor Alinaitwe wrote. He told the students to stay away from the university until the investigation was over and they were set to appear before the disciplinary committee.
However, the affected students from University Hall explain that they are victims who came under attack from Mitchel Hall students following a misunderstanding on their way from a porridge night, which is part of the culture of the halls of residence in university. It brings together allied halls such as Mitchel for males and Complex for females.
However, chaos broke loose as students returned to their respective halls of residence from the School of Education, where the event had taken place. The letter that Raymond Ocheng got said that he was suspended for things that he didn’t do.
When he saw the fights, he said that Mitchel has been known to attack other halls from time to time. His only involvement in the fights was sending a message to University Hall leaders asking them to intervene because the chairperson was also absent.
It’s not clear why Ocheng has been suspended, but he’s worried that it could cost him a whole year of school because course work starts at his school next week, and they’re a part of the end-of-semester tests.
Godfrey Natseli, the Mitchel Hall Guild Representative Council member who dismissed claims of attacking University Hall, said that the university should stop suspending students before hearing them out.
Natseli says that the suspended students were coming from outside the university only to be arrested by police, who had come to calm down the fights that had broken out.
Professor Alinaitwe has threatened to close Mitchel Hall should the leaders there fail to identify those who participated in the fights. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University, took action last month after protests against the partial reopening of the university. Nawangwe suspended sixteen students.
He, however, lifted the suspension after two weeks when student leaders and their legal representatives asked him to do so, so he did.