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Judge recuses self from mental examination case against minister Mayanja

Justice Esta Nambayo

Justice Esta Nambayo

High court judge, Esta Nambayo has recused herself from hearing a case that seeks to compel Butabika national referral mental hospital to subject the minister of state for Lands Sam Mayanja to a mental examination. 

Nambayo said she doesn’t believe the petitioner has reasonable grounds to want the minister’s mental status to be examined. A case filed by David Ssenfuka, a renowned herbalist, was allocated to Nambayo but when it came up for hearing on Friday, she said she couldn’t be fair in her ruling because she already thought the applicant didn’t have a solid case. 

Joshua Buyinza the lawyer representing Ssenfuka speaking outside court said although they were disappointed that the hearing of the case has not commenced, he commended the judge for being honest. 

Ssenfuka who is also a businessman petitioned the High court seeking an examination of the mental fitness of Mayanja because of actions he (Ssenfuka) says border on insanity. 

Last year, Mayanaja ordered the arrest of Ssenfuka for allegedly wanting to evict bibanja holders from his land in Bukomansimbi district. Although he was never arrested, Ssenfuka said that the minister’s directive surprised him because it came at a time when there was an ongoing legal challenge on the same matter at the Masaka High court.  

In his application, Ssenfuka says Mayanja's conduct, which he claims to have closely monitored, leaves a lot of questions in the minds of many Ugandans.

Ssenfuka’s disagreement with the minister is not only about him alone but also about other directives he has given in other cases. He alleges that Mayanja has appropriated himself the powers of the court, the police, and the minister of Internal Affairs to order the arrest, dismissal from the police of officers, and also the reinstatement of people on land against court directives. 

He says even if somebody was simply overzealous, the minister's directive strikes him as that of somebody who needs a mental evaluation. In his application, he says he wrote to Butabika hospital which he says under the law has the right to subject anybody to mental examination to establish their status. 

However, despite writing numerous letters, he received no response from the national referral hospital. He, therefore, petitioned the court to compel Butabika to subject the minister to the test.   

Speaking outside court, Ssenfuka said that if the evaluation reveals any mental health issues, appropriate treatment must be provided. Conversely, if minister Mayanja is deemed mentally fit, Ssenfuka said he will institute legal proceedings against him for issuing what he called illegal directives.  

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