A Ugandan passenger captured on video selling grasshoppers (nsenene) aboard Uganda Airlines flight 446 has apologized for the act.
Paul Mubiru, a local trader registered with Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) has written an apology letter to the airline. The incident, which has since gone viral on social media happened before the airline's Airbus 330-800Neo departed for Dubai at Entebbe international airport on Friday, November 26.
Mubiru, in videos circulating on social media, was seen selling the grasshoppers, a local delicacy at Shs 10,000 in transparent polyethene bags (kaveera). While some passengers were excited, others reacted in disbelief or ignored what was going on.
Here is the ka video! But where was the cabin crew to stop this drama. I can see here's resting his polythene bag containing nsenene on seats. 🙆 pic.twitter.com/eO7alY90S2— Edie Wanderema (@EWanderema) November 27, 2021
Now in a letter dated November 27 and in a video posted in both English and Luganda, Mubiru says he was only hawking the grasshoppers for comical purposes. His oral apology however appears forced and seemed to have been witnessed by a person wielding authority based on the tone of the orders therein.
Mubiru's apology comes a few hours after Thaddeus Musoke, the chairperson of Kacita identified him and said that he will be punished. Musoke has reiterated the same to our reporter, saying that even though Mubiru has since apologised, he will have to be punished. Musoke says Mubiru is a purchasing agent for several city traders who do not want to travel to Dubai.
Musoke said "How could a frequent traveller like him do such a thing? He cannot go unpunished because he even refused to listen to fellow traders and airline crew who told him not to sell nsenene."
He says Mubiru, a frequent flyer, is expected to return today Sunday November 28 and that traders will decide on his fate next week during a meeting. Musoke explains further that Kacita has been negotiating with Uganda Airlines for affordable air ticket prices and cargo fares.
"So acts like these hamper our efforts," Musoke adds, "and this is not the first time we are hearing about unruly traders on board. So we must punish Mubiru to instil discipline among traders."
He is also concerned about the manner in which Mubiru sold the grasshoppers. "It is unacceptable to carry food in plastic polyethene bags and Mubiru did that," he adds, "What if he had sold poison to the passengers?"
Musoke thereby says Kacita is not impressed with Mubiru's behaviour and that his apology cannot undo the tainted image inflicted on the airline. Earlier on, the airline had also condemned Mubiru's actions saying, "No one should be exposed to an unruly market experience on our flight. The unacceptable, disruptive behaviour prevents the performance of critical duties of the flight crew."
In a statement issued November 27, the airline said "We don't condone the acts of the passenger selling nsenene and low standards of serving it to people who were buying it."
The airline adds, "We will not take this conduct on board lightly because it undermines the spirit of the national carrier....we are in talks with passengers involved and if there is another occurrence of such conduct on board, the passenger will be off-loaded without further consideration."
Meanwhile, sections of the public are demanding a probe into the matter, saying security personnel and passenger handlers must be questioned. Others say Ugandans need to be sensitised about packaging for food products or risk losing out when their foodstuffs such as grasshoppers are confiscated at their destinations.
Vianney Luggya, the spokesperson at Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), says "the entire episode will be investigated."