Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko is still held at Jinja road police station days after he was deported back to Uganda from Japan.
20 year-old Ssekitoleko was on Friday deported from Japan where he was driven from Entebbe and ended up in the Jinja road police station cells.
The athlete has now spent over three nights and days in custody. Mugera Isaac, OC CID at Jinja Police Station could not tell the charges on which Ssekitoleko is being held, saying the matter is under Crime Investigations Directorate, and that Jinja Road Police Station is only being used as a custody.
While talking to journalists at Police headquarters in Naguru, CID Spokesperson Charles Twine revealed that there is probable fraud of airlifting a person who had not qualified for the games, saying they are still holding the athlete because he is suspected to be part of the fraud.
Twine added on that they have made several investigations from the National Council of Sports although the top administrators are already in Japan, however saying they might release the athlete on police bond as the investigation is going on. The entire Uganda team is heavily packed with officials who outnumber the participants. There are 31 officials and 25 competitors. Although the conventional ratio should be one official per five athletes, there is no recommended figure and some countries like Uganda choose to sponsor more officials.
When our reporter talked to the athlete, he said he is being held for theft as per the information he received. However according to the police reference, the weightlifter is still under the Jurisdiction of the Crime Investigation department which is holding him for general investigations.
Jacob Siminyu, spokesperson Immigration/Ministry of Internal Affairs says Ssekitoleko embarrassed the country, “What do you expect the country to do when it is embarrassed?” Simiyu fumed.
Siminyu supported Ssekitoleko’s detention, saying he should be used as an example for people who embarrass the country when they are abroad.
But how did Ssekitoleko leave Uganda before confirming his qualification?
Ssekitoleko, who is still under custody narrated that he was sure he was going to participate in the games because the officials assured him. Surprisingly a few days to the games, he was told that he had not made the final list of qualified athletes. Ssekitoleko says all this forced him to get out of the hotel to go and find a new start to life in Japan.
The weightlifter however went with a coach who was attached him. But Ssekitoleko says that the person attached to him as his coach was not the exact person who was training him. He affirms that his coach called Ivan never went with him but rather, he went with Hakim Musoke.
Ssekitoleko could not explain what informed Uganda Athletics’ decision to withdraw his initial coach. However, Musoke who went with Ssekitoleko as his so-called coach, is also back in Uganda after returning from Japan and he is not detained as it is the case for Ssekitooleko.
Last month, the National Council of Sports revealed that the council had received over five billion Shillings for the Olympic games, part of this was to cater for the athletes’ allowances. Ssekitoleko confessed that he received the money but the athlete could not tell the amount.
“I am not sure of the amount but the money was put there, when I moved out from the hotel, I wanted to buy a television and some gifts for my wife,” he explained. “The sellers told me I can use my card if there is money, when I put it there, the money was deducted and I got the television but I don’t know how much it was.”.
Sports leaders under their umbrella, Union of Uganda’s Sports Federations and Association-UUSFA went to Jinja Police Station to demand for release of the detained weightlifter.
The sports leaders headed by interim Chairman of Union of Uganda Sports Federations Association Moses Muhangi said the administrators are concerned about what is happening to the athlete and they condemn it.
Juliet Nalwadda, Ssekitoleko’s mother was also at Jinja Road Police station early morning to demand for the release of the son.
The teary mother said she spoke to her son and he said he is not in a good health condition. The mother says she is hurt when she sees her son being detained alongside criminals. She is pleading with the parties concerned to release her son.
The top officials from the Uganda Olympic Committee including the Chief De mission to Tokyo Beatrice Ayikoru are alreadyin Japan and also the Secretary General of the National Council of Sports Bernard Ogwel.