Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda loses at least 3000 people under unclear circumstances every year, according to data by the criminal Investigations Department covering a period of four years.
In 2019, the data shows, 3,316 people died mysteriously. This means that the circumstances surrounding their death could not be categorised under murder by shootings, poisoning, mob action, aggravated domestic violence nor traffic fatalities. There were 3, 318 similar deaths in 2018, another 3,123 in 2017 and 2,963 in 2016.
In all four years, the criminal investigations directorate has been classifying such deaths as unspecified. The data for the mentioned years shows unspecified deaths contributed to the highest percentage of deaths every year. For instance, overall deaths in 2019 stood at 4,718 yet of these 3,316 were unspecified.
A senior detective at CID said people whose cause of deaths are categorised as unspecified are majorly found dead on roadsides, in public places such bus or taxi parks including those picked dead from water bodies and trenches.
“Our field officers often pick bodies and some of them are in trenches and streams. You first record the cause of death as drowning but after some time you notice the person was strangled. Causes of death that are not easily observed are recorded as unspecified,” a detective explained.
Moses Byaruhanga, the head of the Police’s health services directorate told Uganda Radio Network –URN in an interview that sudden deaths are mostly caused by cardiovascular complications. These are diseases of the heart and blood vessels. During the period under review, the directorate conducted 8,685 postmortems and of these, 3,343 were categorised as murder, 2,905 were traffic fatalities while 1,068 were sudden deaths.
“When you get a problem with the heart such as ischemic conditions where the heart does not receive blood you suddenly die. A blood clot in the lungs will make you fail to breathe and you would die suddenly. In some cases, it is because of poisoning. When we do a postmortem we are able to know the causes of death,” Dr Byaruhanga said.
Dr Byaruhanga said that for bodies that are taken to the mortuary, they conduct various examinations to ensure the cause of death is known. The cause of death can be recorded as unknown only when the body has not reached the mortuary for postmortem.