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Why Ssenfuka wants Butabika to subject minister Mayanja to mental exam

Lands minister Sam Mayanja

Lands minister Sam Mayanja

Last week, court failed to start hearing an application seeking to compel Butabika national mental referral hospital to subject the state minister for Lands Sam Mayanja to a mental examination.

Esta Nambayo, the judge who had been allocated the file, said she wouldn’t properly serve justice having already expressed reservations about the application. Renowned herbalist and businessman David Ssenfuka is the man who wants Mayanja to undergo mental evaluation.

When the case came up for hearing on April 5, Nambayo recused herself and ordered that the file goes back to the registry for reallocation.

It has since been allocated to Judge Boniface Wamala. In the application filed on January 9, 2024, Ssenfuka, through his lawyers of IBC Advocates, wants the court to direct the executive director of Butabika Dr Juliet Nakku to conduct an involuntary mental examination of Mayanja in order to establish whether he is of sound mind.

In his application, Ssenfuka says he has written twice to Butabika hospital but he has never been replied too yet he believes it is urgent that the mental status of the minister is established because according to him, he might plunge the country in a crisis because of the orders and directives he gives as he goes about solving land disputes.

The application says although the Mental Health Act 2018 bestows the duty on relatives to force the involuntary mental examination of anybody suspected of having challenges, Ssenfuka alleges that he tried to reach out to Mayanja’s relatives and all declined to take on the challenge.

“The respondent is seized with the legal duty to act upon a tipoff by any concerned person to cause an involuntary examination, admission and treatment of a person suspected of a mental illness...the applicant is vested with no alternative to establish the upright mental cognition of Sam Mayanja save through petitioning the respondent as is stipulated under the law,” Ssenfuka’s application reads in part.

In his affidavit sworn in in support of the application, Ssenfuka says there is reasonable cause for concern that Mayanja needs to be subjected to mental examination because of his “repeated unwise decisions that have put him at the risk of harm, abuse, ridicule or exploitation.”

Ssenfuka says it can be understood when a public official makes genuine mistakes in the course of their duties but for Mayanja, it has gone beyond what can pass as a mistake. He says a lawyer like Mayanja can’t go on giving orders to arrest people, cancel land titles or dismissing police officers he accuses of assisting what he calls land grabbers.

Ssenfuka, in his application, says he witnessed first-hand what he calls Mayanja’s incoherent directives when he ordered that he (Ssenfuka) be arrested for allegedly evicting bibanja holders on his land located at Budda village in Bukomansimbi district. In an interview, Ssenfuka said a lawyer who disrespects court decisions, who says landlords have no right to own land because they are not the ones with user rights, a who says the president needs to and disband the entire judiciary can’t be acting normally.

“Clearly what he is doing is illegal but I don’t want to waste my time to take him to court before establishing the fact that he is within his normal senses. That’s why I want Butabika to first subject him to a mental examination and if he is found to be stable, then we definitely we shall sue him. If they find him not to be in charge of his mental faculties, then the hospital must be compelled to treat him,” Ssenfuka said.

In support of his application, Ssenfuka attaches a transcript of what Mayanja said while meeting people holding bibanja on his (Ssenfuka’s) land. In one of the excerpts translated by Makerere University’s department of Literature, Mayanja says that whoever evicts a kibanja owner is a trespasser, because the kibanja owner is the occupant.

“The title owner is not the occupant. Therefore, when you come and chase him/her, you are the trespasser. I am surprised that until now, that trespasser has not yet been arrested. DPC, do you fear the man? I thought that you swore to protect the Constitution of Uganda and all laws, without fear or favour... Why do you arrest bibanja owners who have no problem, and you leave these people who break the law? I am now ordering, as a representative of the executive, the chief fighter; I am ordering the RDC; use your executive committee to quickly prepare a warrant of arrest, and look for this man Ssenfuka, and arrest him...For very many offences; the first one, fraud and forgery. All the evidence has been heard here; all the things that the man is moving with, the titles he has, are forged,” Mayanja’s transcript reads in part.

In another, the minister says the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo should be replaced because he has failed to do his job.

“The judiciary is holding the executive [at ransom]. I am here, but the LC-V is not here, why? Because the judiciary made an order that he should not be here. I am here when the RDC is not here, because the judiciary made an order that he should not be here. What kind of judiciary is that? Therefore, I will take information to the president, and he will use his authority to disband the entire judiciary...There are new people that can do these jobs. And you, Owiny-Dollo, have always been telling us that we should give you evidence. Don’t talk, you people in the judiciary. I want Owiny-Dollo to tell us what he has done about this case that has taken 17 years in court. Is that the judiciary that he is leading, which he says we should not talk about? We want to hear why people are being arrested...a judge sits on the bench and asks for a million and no one talks about them? Is that the judiciary that he doesn’t want us to talk about? We are declaring today . . . if he doesn’t do anything, he should also leave the bench. We are fed up... People, who is leading this country, the president or judge?” Mayanja said.

In response to the application, Dr Nakku said that Ssenfuka has no locus to bring about the application let alone seeking the orders that he sought.

“I know that the application does not fulfil the conditions required for the involuntary admission of a patient to Butabika Hospital... the applicant has not provided any proof to show that he approached the relatives of Hon Sam Mayanja regarding his mental stability and that the relatives declined to cooperate,” Nakku’s affidavit in reply drawn by the Attorney General’s chambers reads in part.

It adds that Butabika hospital is not obliged to cause an involuntary examination of any person suspected of mental illness but, rather, it can only receive a person as an involuntary patient for treatment and care if the request satisfies the conditions for involuntary admission.

“Involuntary admission is not the only means by which Hon Sam Mayanja may be provided with care, treatment and rehabilitation that will benefit him as alleged by the applicant...this application is brought in bad faith, an abuse of court process and the applicant is not entitled the remedies sought,” Nakku’s affidavit reply reads in part.

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