Uganda: Six Westerners Die In February — Fears of Impact on Tourism

Uganda: Six Westerners Die In February — Fears of Impact on Tourism

The giraffe, probably the tallest animals in the world, are in one of the Game Parks in Uganda.

“Uganda has been stable for the last 32 years during the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government and is going to be safe for tourists”

“We have complains that several people are involved in the sale of a strong substance, which is a mixture of dangerous drugs popularly as ‘enchwiri’. It is sold to unsuspecting people, including foreigners”

“Narcotic department and law are not working well. People should not come and smoke marijuana and die in our country. It is bad for our reputation. Tourism is a very sensitive industry that strives well in peace and security. When they come and encounter such things, it is really bad. I implore governmentto look at security from a deeper sense of the meaning”

GULU-UGANDA: Sixty-one year old Ms. Mountie Guy Watson left the comfort of her home in Texas, United States of America, on a visit to see nature at work in this Uganda, once called the “Pearl of Africa.” 

She died suddenly of what doctors’ say was heart failure on Saturday, February 17, 2018 from Bwana Tembo Safari Camp in Got-Apwoyo sub-county, Nwoya district which is located just outside Murchison Falls National Game Park in the northern part of Uganda. Uganda received a total of 1.5 million tourists in 2017 and intends to increase this number to four million annually by 2020.

Ms. Watson became the third out of six foreigners to die suddenly in Uganda in February 2018 alone. The first to die suddenly was 41-year old, the late Mr. Alex Sebastian who died in a hotel room at the famous Sheraton Hotel, formerly Apollo Hotel, which is located in the heart of Kampala capital city on Monday, February 5, 2018. He was a Swedish national. 42-year-old Tersvouri Toomajuha Petteri, from Finland, died the following day from the Pearl of Africa Hotel. This Hotel is also located in the heart of Kampala Capital City.

The fourth foreigner to die suddenly in Uganda, was the 76 year old German national, the late Ms. Rita Charlotte. She reportedly collapsed during a nature walk at the Murchison Falls National Game Park in northern Uganda. She was rushed to Pakwach Health Center in West Nile sub-region, where she died on Monday, February 19, 2018. 

The second German national and the fifth foreigner to die in Uganda was Mr. Hans Jurgen Vallant, who died suddenly on Friday, February 23, 2018 in Kampala. He reportedly died of heart attack.

The last recorded sudden death of a foreigner in Uganda was a Belgian national, a 54 year-old Eric Yvonur, who ostensibly committed suicide from Muyenga B zone, a suburb of Kampala city, on Monday, February 26, 2018.

He arrived in Uganda on Saturday, February 19 and two days later married Ms. Joseline Mupfasoni, a Burundian national, in a private ceremony in Kampala. She has been arrested as a prime suspect of the death of this Belgian by police, to help in investigations.

“We are interested in this woman. We are going with her to help us in investigations”, state-owned New Vision quoted a senior detective on Tuesday, February 27, 2018. “The death of Eric Yvonur and Hans Jurgen Vallant brings to six, the number of foreigners who have died in Uganda over the last one month”, reports New Vision.

According to the Local council II, Chairpeson of Muyenga Parish, a suburb of Kampala, Mr. Omar Yasin, his office has received report of the sale of a strong substance, which is a mixture of dangerous drugs, popularly known as enchwiri to unsuspecting people, including foreigners. “We have complains that several people are involved in the sale of a strong substance, which is a mixture of dangerous drugs popularly as enchwiri. It is sold to unsuspecting people, including foreigners”, says Omar Yasin.

According to the minister in charge of Tourism, Professor Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda has been stable for the last 32 years and is going to continue to be safe for tourists.

“Uganda has been stable for the last 32 years during the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government and is going to be safe for tourists” says Prof. Kamuntu. He made this remark on Sunday, February 25, 2018, during the fourth Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo.

These deaths have not made it headline news in most news outlets in Uganda because of strict policy of government to conceal some of these deaths because it affects tourism industry negatively.

Two local journalists, Rev. Isaac Baka, the Arua based TV reporter is facing charges of treason and misprision of treason; and Charles Etakuri of the New Vision, were arrested because of some of their reports in the media considered dangerous to tourism.

According to Honorable Samuel Odonga-Otto, the Member of Parliament for Aruu South in Pader district, northern Uganda, government should not take these deaths lightly, but do everything possible to investigate such deaths and assure tourists that they are safe in Uganda. He complains that the narcotic department of the police and the law against smoking marijuana are weak and not working well.

“Narcotic department and law are not working well. People should not come and smoke marijuana and die in our country. It is bad for our reputation. Tourism is a very sensitive industry that strives well in peace and security. When they come and encounter such things, it is really bad. I implore government to look at security from a deeper sense of the meaning”, says the legislator.

Another legislator, Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, the Kyadondo East  MP, says security forces should work to keep Uganda safe instead of only reacting when insecurity occurs.

Because of these deaths, American Embassy in Kampala has raised travel advisory level for its citizens from the first level to second level out of four different levels.

“If you decide to travel to Uganda, do not physically resist and armed robbery ; food and drinks should never be left unattended in public especially in local clubs; use caution when walking or driving at night, carry a copy of your passport and visa and leave originals in your hotel safe” among others instructions.