Over the past few days, an online discussion has been going on among members of the Association of Ugandan Professionals in S Africa regarding reported scams involving Ugandans that we feel as responsible Ugandans, we need to step up and put a stop to or atleast help curb. Copied below is the discussion and as you read through it, you will understand what this is all about:
Hi, all a friend on face book sent this to me and asked me to pass it on. Please, those with contact in media houses in Kampala, please pass on the message.
“Please make it known to the Ugandan community that Brooklyn City College in South Africa has scammed unsuspecting Ugandan students with a promise of bursaries which did not materialize once they arrived in South Africa. They are now on the streets and struggling to come back home. The other day I even took one of them to the Ugandan Embassy to see if they could assist him go home. The bursaries were promised to the Buganda Kingdom by the so called Shaba Wa Shaba 9the owner of Brooklyn City College in Pretoria).
60 bursaries were promised to 60 students for various courses. So it means 60 Ugandan students will be on the streets of Pretoria very soon as they are starting to arrive now. I saw two of them.”
David WR (Joburg)
This is a serious matter, considering the fact that it might waste people’s futures and hard earned funds.
AUPSA can play a leading role in the matter as part of our community responsibility.
Is there more information on this matter that we can use i.e contact details of the person who posted the tip?
The said college is in Pretoria and the proprietor is known to many of us – the allegation is familiar – I shall sound him out this weekend.
Any body out there with additional information.
Please let us look out for each other and preserve our dignity and that of others.
Allen M (Pretoria)
I have heard about this gentleman and this particular college before. This is a gentleman who used to be a ‘dokita’ (“fake traditional healers” that call themselves doctors) but recently ventured into colleges. I am told he is doing terrible things to other Ugandans with colleges and even formulating allegations where police come and arrest them. Yes, competition exists in all sectors of life but it’s really deplorable that a Ugandan would go to the level of destroying other Ugandans in order to succeed.
Yesterday I received information about this bursary scam. I asked the gentleman who told me to give me the phone number of this Ugandan. I phoned him and told him that what I hear him doing to other Ugandans is not good and I, as a Ugandan, are concerned and I am going to make it publicly known. He told me that other Ugandans with colleges are jealous of him because they all don’t have papers and he is the only one who has. This is very strange because many of these colleges have been operating for more than 10 years and his only started operating last year. I told him that I wanted to hear his side of the story and I am going to coordinate it with the other information I have but I was generally disappointed with what I was hearing because Ugandans are supposed to cooperate and build each other. I actually plan to write about him in both Uganda and SA papers.
This is the same gentleman I am told earlier this year went to Silk night club in Kampala and started throwing notes of money at the revellers saying “megende mulye” (go and enjoy) as they scrambled for it. Another day I am told he was reported to have portioned off the executive wing of popular Angenoir night club in Kampala and asked everybody in attendance to revel on his account. But anyway that’s his money and he can do whatever he wishes with it. The problem is when he starts making life hell for fellow Ugandans that have been struggling to make a decent living genuinely and offering a recognisable service.
So sad and pathetic! I am happy that AUPSA has taken interest in this. May I suggest that AUPSA get more details on:
- How many students have so far been affected (Already in the country and struggling to survive)
- How many are on the way?
In the case of the first category, let AUSPA advise us how we can help e.g fundraise for return ticket(s) or short term maintenance (without conditions attached) as guardian in Uganda sort out the return the students, e.t.c. I am particularly worried about young ladies and what could potentially happen to them when they find themselves in such desperate conditions.
As for the later category, let AUSPA get more details on the entire arrangements and who is involved in Uganda. Thereafter decide whether it may be advisable to contact whoever is in charge, to stop more students from coming unless some guarantees are in place.
AUPSA may also use this opportunity to start an advisory services to Uganda parents that wish to bring their children to study in South Africa in terms of credibility of the institutions in which they be registered, cost considerations and other survival info on staying in the country.
Martin, Dr (Pretoria).
I suggest Steve & Chairman meet this man/woman and discuss matter face-to-face.
Domnic, Dr (Pretoria)
Very good suggestions Martin.
Domnic, this is not a man easy to talk to. Yesterday he was telling me that he didn’t go to school but he knows how to make business. He was telling me that the other Ugandans should also learn ways of getting business.
Thank you – People .Thank you so much for bringing this out.
We will not sit and watch, let us at least make AUPSA’s position clear
and position it through such a position and spirit that Dokitas (“traditional healers”) were not allowed into the AUPSA ranks.
Now let us walk the talk.
I think this is one of the the areas, where where AUPSA should show that we mean to defend the good name of Uganda. This gentleman should be called and facts put clear to him and told in very clear words that AUPSA will help victims and fight this.
Thank you. Let us know how we can help.
Alex M (Pretoria)
I sent this information to somebody in Uganda and below is the response I received. I actually think the embassy should play an active role in informing people back in Uganda about such activities. The embassy’s duty is not only to protect Uganda ‘s interests here but also to help Ugandans back home with relevant information that emanates from here. For long, Ugandans back home have been conned with promises of lucrative jobs, money or bursaries – like in this particular incident – and usually when they get stuck here, they end up at the embassy and the only thing the embassy can do is give them a document to travel home. I have before written in the Ugandan papers warning about this scam.
For long we have heard of many stories where some unscrupulous Ugandans here have gone back home and conned families of their savings that they are bringing their children here to educated them or give them jobs only to reach here and disappear from them. These are the young boys and girls that end up on the street corners giving out papers for “witch doctors” because they are so desperate to survive. Some of the people that con them are the ones that indirectly employ them on the streets to give out those advert papers for “traditional doctors” – sometimes at the cost of only accommodation in a crammed room somewhere. Some young girls end up in desperate circumstances. Many of these youngsters have approached to the embassy for help and if you gather them on the streets, they will tell you their stories. This scavenging on innocent Ugandans back home must stop and it’s high time the embassy stepped forward and protected Ugandans back home. by first of all publicising this information and also collaborating with security forces on this. These people should be clearly made aware of this and that the law will seek them out.
This particular person alleged to be involved in the bursary scam is an official of a Ugandan organisation here. I wonder what credibility he is giving the organisation.
Man I heard about this bursary scam. The owners usually come to Uganda and are presented as celebrities. It is high time we exposed them because there is a lot more than meets the eyes.
These people have been at it for ages but there are times when you can’t sustain it.
Otherwise thanks for sharing and it would be good if this is extended to the local newspapers as well.
Today I was told about another scam that has seemingly been going on for long and may actually be thriving.
There is a Ugandan-owned “recruitment company” that operates from Johannesburg but recruits people in Uganda for lucrative jobs that may make Steve Jobs feel like quitting Apple and coming to work in SA. This company I am told even advertises on radios and newspapers. Interested candidates are required to pay Uganda Shillings 2 million (approx SA R8000) to facilitate the process.
In this particular story I was told a Ugandan boy that had completed university, and from a prominent family, fell for the scam. His parents paid the money and was made to believe that he will find the job here. He was asked to travel by road, given phone contacts and to each country he came to, he indeed found somebody “that works for that company” waiting at the border and helped him through. This shows that they have a network. On entering South Africa, he was suddenly abandoned. He ended up in Mayville, Johannesburg where he was given advert papers for “traditional doctors from East Africa” to distribute at a pay of R30 per day and later sleeping in a rundown house downtown in a room of 12. Many of these Ugandan young boys and girls that are founds on the streets of each and every South African town, small or big, distributing advert papers for these fake “traditional doctors” have ended up like this. Some are even kept in bondage with threats that police will arrest them because they don’t have the right papers and only these guys can help them.
This boy’s parents managed to contact another Ugandan in S Africa who went and rescued him from Mayville. She found him malnourished and ill. Today he was put on a bus back. This is the lucky one because his parents got a contact in S Africa and were able to rescue him. Many never manage to make it back home, after they had used all their savings or sold property to come over on a promise of lucrative jobs. Some of them even have their passports taken away, apparently for “safety reasons” and are advised – like in this boy’s case – that in case of any crisis, they should go to the Ugandan embassy and claim loss of their passports so that they can be issued a temporary/emergency travel document.
I had previously heard about these cases in passing but this time I have heard from somebody directly involved. I am sure there are many such cases out there and I think it’s our civil duty to highlight them once we learn of them because there must definitely be many distraught families and youngsters out there.
Earlier this year a Ugandan boy, sounding completely blank, phoned me from the Musina border after entering S Africa and told me that he was going to Johannesburg but the person he was going to see told him that I, as the AUPSA chairman, would assist transport him to Johannesburg since he was busy at the time and was no longer reachable on phone. I told him that I live in Pretoria that is close to Johannesburg and that there is no way the ‘host person’ could have expected me to drive to Musina, 400 km away, to fetch him. I now think this must have been a victim of one of these scams.
It is terrible what people put others through in order to make money.
I am obviously sending this information to newspapers and radio stations back in Uganda as well as giving it to relevant people that have their hands in necessary places.
I have also heard of people who have sold their lands in Ugand to find Jobs in Johannesburg,
I think we need to name and shame who ever is doing this there must be a name to it.
Jenifer JM (Joburg)
It is indeed sad. A friend’s son in going through the same after being coned. The parents are trying to find him and possibly bring him back.
Esse K, Dr (Makerere University, Kampala)
If people do not rise up and condemn such acts and especially our government, then the trend will follow suit to sangoma activities (“fake traditional healers”) which government has seeming taken lightly in tarnishing the name of Ugandans. So members if we could propose to our govt to describe this as an act of human trafficking it can be easy to even arrest them from this soil and even in Uganda, and the media should be used to publicise their identity to help would be victims as the act is deplorable
Phillip K (Pretoria)
Thank you Twino!
I think the scam has reached all levels. I remember some time back we contributed money to one young boy when I was in Pretoria, after he was deceived & left school. He was in Senior 6 then & was brought here & dropped in Joburg & was left on the street. Luckily enough he met a good Samaritan who brought him to the college where I was working & he narrated the story to us & we had no option but to arrange bus fare and help him go back to Uganda
Now my second case is a recent one where a nephew of my friend who is currently in UK was also conned & dropped in Joburg on the street where he is struggling to survive. His Uncle contacted me & gave me the contact number of the boy & when I called him , he told me the story of how he was conned. He also gave me the description of the gentleman who recruited him. where he stays, the car he drives & his phone contacts in Uganda( the gentleman drives a car with South Africa’s Gauteng number plate in Kampala) so that puts confidence in his culprits fall in the trap. I am using my contacts back home bring such people to book & expose them.
Please forward this to who ever you know such that we share this information world-wide to stop this scam.
Lauben B (Durban)