Makerere Student Who Lost Fingers To Teargas Cannister Yet To Resume Studies

Almost a year after losing his fingers to a teargas canister, Richard Ssebuganda is yet to resume his studies at Makerere University. In February 2022, Makerere University students led by former Guild President, Shamim Nambassa staged a demonstration demanding an end to online lectures. 

This prompted police to fire live bullets and tear gas in halls of residence to quell protests. Ssebuganda was in Lumumba hall, one of those regarded as the bedrock of strikes at Makerere University. The third-year Bio-Medical Science student says that he was in his room when a teargas canister landed in the ceiling and he tried to pick it up and throw it away.

“I came back to my room at around 3 pm from a discussion, I remember there was something that was coming from a ceiling and coming to my chest, and I used my right hand to throw it away and it exploded,” Ssebuganda told URN.  

His palm was shuttered in a matter of seconds, resulting in the loss of at least four fingers. This episode, Ssebuganda says has completely changed his life.  

Ssebuganda, who wears gloves to help him cover his hand explains that since then, he developed a medical condition that makes his hands shake involuntarily. This condition forced him to pause his studies for a year now to allow him to heal because the nature of his academics involves practical exercises.

“I will tell you frankly that I tried studying but my mind is not into it, even holding a test tube is something that is hard for me. How do you expect me to be on a ward round when I can’t even hold something, which is very elementary?” he asked. 

He says the University administration has not done enough to help him get back on his feet apart from the first aid he recieved following the accident.        

Although he was a government-sponsored student, Ssebuganda says that he lost his semester-based allowances when he failed to register for the new academic year. He explains that without these allowances, life has become hard to sustain. 

Ssebuganda told URN that he now stays at Mitchell hall, another boys’ hall at Makerere University, with a colleague whom he did not want to name since Lumumba was closed for renovation. 

Asked whether he considers going back to complete his program, Ssebuganda said that he would wish to go back but he needs to first get plastic surgery to get a replica of a hand. “I would love to because I was an ambitious person, but I am not in a good shape, the thumb was removed, up to the small finger, and the palm can do nothing, trust me I can’t even button up my shirt,” Ssebuganda said.

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