Bank of Uganda [BoU] has responded to a court petition seeking the bank’s involvement in the exhumation of the body of the late socialite, Ivan Ssemwanga, to remove the money buried with him.
“It has come to our notice that Uganda shilling notes were thrown into a grave during a recent burial ceremony,” the bank said in a statement.
It said the money, which was so mishandled, is likely to be defaced, soiled or damaged; and thereby no longer serve the purpose for which it was intended.
The national currency is minted and printed by the central bank to serve as: store of value, which means people can save it and use it later—smoothing their purchases over time; unit of account, that is, provide a common base for prices; or medium of exchange, something that people can use to buy and sell from one another.
On Tuesday, Rich Gang members used millions of money to form a carpet for Ssemwanga’s coffin while burying him in Kayunga district.
Mourners were caught on camera splashing money [believed to have been at least Shs15m] at people on their way to Kayunga and later in the grave of the deceased socialite.
In his petition received by the court registrar on June 2, 2017, Abbey Mgugu dragged A Plus Funeral Management Co. Ltd and Bank of Uganda [BoU] to the High Court in Kampala saying all the currencies of Uganda shillings, South African Rand and United States dollars and/or other currency that was put/placed in the grave and buried along with late Ivan Ssemwanga’s body be removed by ordering the respondents to exhume the said late; for purposes of respecting currency of Uganda and other countries.
He wants the respondents to open the grave to remove money Ssemwanga was buried with and put it back into circulation and that BoU pays him damages for wilfully/negligently failing to ensure the respect of monetary current of Uganda and other countries.
The bank says the shilling is valuable because Ugandans collectively ascribe value to it and entrust the preservation of its integrity to the Bank of Uganda, the statement said.
The money, which was so mishandled, is likely to be defaced, soiled or damaged, and thereby no longer serve the purpose for which it was….
— Bank of Uganda (@BOU_Official) June 2, 2017
“Because of its grand purpose and value it holds for us, the shilling deserves the status of a national symbol. This implies that our national currency should not be handled in a manner that is indecorous.”
“Accordingly, the public is urged strongly to refrain from any act, conduct or use of shilling notes and coins for purposes other than those for which the national currency is intended; or in a manner that results in the defacing, soiling or damaging of the Uganda shilling currency notes and coins.”
Indeed, proposed amendments to the Bank of Uganda Act include a clause that will criminalise any practices such as defacing, soiling, mutilation or other forms of disrespect to the national currency, the bank clarified.
“The public will be informed of the amendment once it is concluded.”