Negligence

Saulo Mawanda Sempa & 3 Ors v The Attorney General (Cv. Cs. Nos.1330,1332,1331 & 1294 Of 1998) ((Cv. Cs. Nos.1330,1332,1331 & 1294 Of 1998)) [2009] UGHC 157 (28 August 2009);

Flynote: 

Search Summary: 

On 29th March, 1998, a frightening incident happened along Hoima Kampala road at Wamika, near Busunju across river Mayanja.  In that incident, four medical doctors drawned in river Mayanja.   The Motor vehicle, in which they were traveling, namely, Mini-bus, registration number 607 UBK, plunged into the flooded river after the bridge had been swept away by flooding waters

The first plaintiff is son to the deceased doctor.  He sued, in the two cases by his next friend.  The third and fourth plaintiffs are widows to the deceased doctor. All the suits were instituted for the benefit of the members of the deceased’s’ families

 

Court observed that the statutory duty which was imposed upon the police under Section 150(b), of the Traffic And Road Safety Act, 1970, and now under section 142 (b) of Cap.316, stems, fundamentally, from the core functions of the Uganda Police Force as set out in article 212, of Constitution and Section 4, of the Police Act, Cap.303.  The cardinal functions among all those functions are to protect the life and property of all persons in Uganda and to maintain and preserve law and order throughout the country.

 

Court was satisfied that the questions of both foreseeability and proximity are not in any doubt in this case.  It was easily foreseeable, by the police officers at Busunju, that harm or injury, to the members of the public using the road, would be a likely result from their failure or unwillingness to close the road and divert traffic.  Any person of ordinary intelligence and prudence would have anticipated such a danger.  Drowning, which was the cause of death to the deceased persons, in this case, was indeed, a proximate consequence.  In addition to being in the train of physical causation, it was not outside the range of expectation or probability, as may be viewed by an ordinary person.

 

It, appeared to court in light of the evidence and the law, as briefly set out above, that the police officers, at Busunju Police Post, breached the absolute statutory duty, imposed upon them by Section 150 (b), of the Traffic And Road Safety Act, 1970.  They did so negligently.  Furthermore, apart from failing to discharge that statutory duty, the police officers at Busunju Police Post, were also generally negligent.  They failed or neglected to provide any warnings or to take any steps to prevent the road users from exposing themselves to the emergent situation which existed at river Mayanja, near Busunju, in the evening hours of 29th March, 1998.

Headnote and Holding: 

Court concludes that, upon the balance of probabilities, the evidence of DW2 and PW15, could not justifiably lead to the conclusion that the driver of motor vehicle 607 UBK, was negligent or contributoriry negligent.

Court found that the defendant’s servants were negligent and that they were negligent during the course of their duties.  Court also concluded that the driver of motor vehicle 607 UBK was not negligent.

Court awarded damages to various plaintiffs.

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