Ugandan weightlifter Julius Ssekitoleko who was today deported from Japan is to face disciplinary action over his failed disappearance act, ministry of Education and Sports has said.
Ssekitoleeko, who disappeared from the hotel for the Ugandan Olympic Team in Izumisano, was found in the city of Yokkaichi nearly a week later. Before his disappearance, he reportedly left a note in his hotel room, saying he wanted to remain in Japan and work because life in Uganda is financially so hard.
Having failed to qualify in his discipline, Ssekitoleko was due to return to Uganda on July 20 but disappeared on July 16. Four days later he reportedly handed himself over to police following a frantic search. It is still unclear how Ssekitoleko managed to travel to Japan without qualifying for the games that have officially kicked off today afternoon.
He arrived at Entebbe airport today at around 8:15 am aboard Qatar Airways under the tight watch and guard of Shiiya Kechini, a Japanese official attached to Team Uganda.
Rev. Canon Duncans Mugumya, the incoming commissioner physical education and sports at the Education ministry said Ssekitoleko will definitely be punished because he breached the code of conduct that among others, requires athletes to stay in the camp and seek permission before moving out of the camp.
"Other logistics are to be done here because as sportsmen, we have a way we discipline. The other ministries have a way they discipline so we will as a department of education and sports we will actually discipline him in a sports way. As you see, when you're in a game, a player is given a red card, maybe stopped to play another two games that is what we'll do and other affairs affecting other ministries they will do the needful but we'll help him and counsel him to make sure that he knows that he did wrong," said Mugumya.
After going through the immigration routine checks, Ssekitoleeko was thereafter handed over to the police officers at the airport, prompting his family members to curse government for making life even harder for the already distressed athlete.
After interrogation for over two hours, Ssekitoleko was later whisked away from the airport in a private double cabin vehicle without the knowledge of his family. This prompted his mother Juliet Nalwadda and his sister Pauline Nakasagga to chase after the vehicle, demanding for his release because he committed no crime.
Nalwadda said the reason her son wanted to stay in Japan is because his own government did not care for him in time of need. She said she had to look for over Shs 7 million to sponsor her son for the trip to Japan, expenses which ought to have been met by the government. Nalwadda said her son has done his best to represent the country, first as a rugby player and now weightlifting.
"He has won many medals, but he has no job," Nalwadda said. "He has been evicted from his house and his girlfriend is pregnant."
Government denied arresting Ssekitoleko, saying he was only taken to the ministry of Internal Affairs headquarters for financial support.
"We have not pressed any charges against him but taken him to the ministry to get some logistical issues sorted out because he needs financial support."
Mugumya explained that government is keen to know why Ssekitoleeko escaped in Japan. - URN/The Observer